US energy secretary meets Saudi counterpart after OPEC cuts

Riyadh (AFP) –


Saudi Arabia's energy minister held talks Monday with US Energy Secretary Rick Perry, after the kingdom and its allies defied US pressure to cut oil production in a bid to prop up prices.

They discussed the "state of the oil market" and energy cooperation between the two countries during a meeting in eastern Dhahran city, the minister, Khalid al-Falih, said on Twitter.

Perry tweeted that he discussed the need for "open, free, and fair markets with the Saudis".

OPEC members and 10 other oil producing nations, including Russia, on Friday agreed to cut output by 1.2 million barrels a day from January in a bid to reverse recent falls in prices.

The decision came even as US President Donald Trump demanded that the cartel boost output in order to push prices down.

OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia's diplomatic position has been badly weakened by the global furore over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October.

Trump insists he will stick by Riyadh despite the outrage but he has been also ramping up the pressure for more oil.

But Falih shrugged off the pressure last week, saying "we don't need permission from anyone to cut" production.

The US "is not in a position to tell us what to do," he told reporters ahead of Friday's OPEC meeting in Vienna.

Last week, for the first time in decades, the United States -- which is not a member of OPEC -- was a net exporter of crude oil and petroleum products.

It was the latest sign of how the shale boom has lifted the US standing on global petroleum markets, prompting talk of "energy dominance" by Trump.