WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump accused OPEC on Friday of "artificially" boosting oil prices, drawing rebukes from some of the world's top energy exporters.
"Looks like OPEC is at it again. With record amounts of Oil all over the place, including the fully loaded ships at sea.Oil prices are artificially Very High! No good and will not be accepted!" Trump wrote on Twitter.
It was unclear what triggered the tweet, Trump's first mention of OPEC on social media during his term, report Agencies.
U.S. oil prices are near a three-year high, at close to US$70 a barrel, and have been rising since OPEC and non-OPEC producers including Russia cut supply in January 2017 to end a global oil glut and price collapse.
Trump's tweet came shortly after officials from top oil exporter Saudi Arabia said they would like to see prices climb even higher and that they were still far from their goal of ending the supply glut.
The cartel is expected to restrain supply through the end of this year, and possibly into 2019.
Three Saudi officials told Reuters this week they would be happy to see oil hit US$80 or US$100 a barrel. Higher prices drive up gasoline prices for motorists worldwide and rising energy costs feed inflation. But higher oil prices have also benefited the U.S. energy industry, feeding rapid growth in output from shale fields. U.S. oil output is at record levels.
Despite Trump's comments, oil benchmarks ended the day modestly higher, rebounding from early losses.
Several members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries responded to the tweet, saying prices were not artificially inflated.
Delegates at an OPEC/non-OPEC monitoring committee meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia said oil prices were higher partially because of global political tensions, mentioning sanctions on Venezuela, threats to the Iran nuclear agreement, strikes on Syria and saber-rattling over North Korea.
OPEC Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo said the output cut agreement halted the collapse in global oil prices, and is "on course to restore stability on a sustainable basis in the interest of producers, consumers and the global economy."
"We don't have any price objective in OPEC, and not in this joint endeavor with non-OPEC," Barkindo said on Friday, in response to Trump's tweet.
The group is next slated to meet in June to discuss output policy. Ministers from both Iraq and the United Arab Emirates also disagreed with Trump on Friday, with Iraqi Oil Minister Jabar al-Luaibi saying prices are "not very high" and that the market is stabilizing.