What the frack? Saudi oil-minister hails 'fossil-friendly' Trump

What the frack? Saudi oil-minister hails 'fossil-friendly' Trump
3 min read
02 February, 2017
Saudi Oil Minister Khalid al-Falih says he is pleased with Donald Trump's fossil fuel-oriented energy policy, unconcerned by the US President's promise to pursue energy independence.
Al-Falih said he was pleased with Trump's fossil fuel-oriented plans [AFP]
Saudi Arabia's oil minister has said that he was pleased with US President Donald Trump's plans to pursue a more fossil fuel-oriented energy policy.

This comes as Trump has made a raft of measures signalling he intends to put America on a more fossil fuel-friendly path, appointing an oil boss to a senior cabinet post and signalling he would go ahead with the construction of controversial pipelines, Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipeline.

In an interview with the BBC on Wednesday, Khalid al-Falih insisted he was unconcerned by Trump's promise to pursue energy independence, adding that Saudi Arabia had invested billions of dollars in the American oil industry.

"President Trump has policies that are good for the oil industry, and I think that we have to acknowledge it," he said.

"The energy policy on the White House's website talks about working closely with the US Gulf allies; and Saudi Arabia is the leader of that group on energy policies," he said, adding that the Trump administration would eventually "do the right thing for the US".

When asked whether Saudi Arabia had any concerns regarding Trump "putting America first" by moving towards energy independence and cutting oil imports, the minister said the country had "no problem with the growth of American indigenous oil supply".

"As long as they grow in line with the global energy demand, we welcome them," al-Falih said, adding that the "over-exaggerated" concerns will later prove to be non-existent.

The Saudi minister also stressed that the US-Saudi relations were "very strong".

"I think at the end of the day... Saudi Arabia and the US cannot afford not to work together in concert to confront the challenges that are facing the world."

Oil transparency rule

The interview was released on the same day US lawmakers moved to strike down an anti-corruption regulation that would have required oil, gas and mining companies to disclose payments to foreign governments.

I think at the end of the day... Saudi Arabia and the US cannot afford not to work together in concert to confront the challenges that are facing the world.
- Khaled al-Falih

Republicans and lobbyists said the Securities and Exchange Commission rule, which had not taken effect since it was issued last year by US financial market regulators, put US industry at a competitive disadvantage.

"Gutting this law will mean oil, gas and mining companies can continue to do secret backroom deals with corrupt regimes, tyrants and dictators all over the world," said Stefanie Ostfeld, deputy head of Global Witness' US office.

Rex Tillerson

The move also came the same day the Senate voted to confirm Trump's secretary of state pick, former Exxon Mobile chief Rex Tillerson, who opposed the rule.

As the world's largest publicly-traded energy firm, ExxonMobil's global empire has been compared to a quasi-state with its own policy.

It has operations in dozens of countries, under multi-year contracts with a variety of governments, and Tillerson was at the heart of many of the deals.

"Rex Tillerson is one of the highest qualified executives I have ever dealt with," al-Falih said, describing the new State Secretary as "a statesman by nature".

"I have watched him with admiration as he led ExxonMobil to become the most respected oil and gas company in the world. I'm sure he'll take his experience and his wisdom to his new position as Secretary of State."

Al-Falih also said he was looking forward to working with Rick Perry, Trump's nominee for energy secretary.

"I look forward to meeting with him and coordinating on energy policies, and we will make sure that there is a better understanding of what we, in Saudi Arabia, stand for," he said.