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An oil pump is seen at sunset near Reims, France.

REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

Does the world really need more oil right now?

We’ve heard dire warnings in recent weeks from oil industry analysts and professionals about how already-high oil prices could rise to record levels in the coming months. Goldman Sachs has increased its price forecast for the second half of the year to $135 per barrel. Trading giant Trafigura predicted that prices could rise even higher to over $150 per barrel.

Underpinning these alarms are fears that the war in Ukraine will lead to a big fall in Russian crude production and exports. Ever since Russia invaded its western neighbor, markets have been on alert for signs of acute disruptions that would squeeze crude supplies.

But what if they are looking in the wrong direction? What if the fixation on the risk of a supply shock (losing Russian barrels) is diverting attention from a very real weakening of global demand for oil?

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Biden Wants Saudis to Increase Oil Production & Russia Out of OPEC+ | World In :60 | GZERO Media

Biden could get Saudis to push Russia out of OPEC+

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week on World In :60.

What does Biden hope to come from his trip to Saudi Arabia?

Well, first he hopes he isn't smashed by progressives in his own party after saying when he campaigned that he wanted to make Saudi Arabia into a pariah internationally. Traveling to Saudi Arabia and visiting with Mohammed bin Salman doesn't do that, but of course, $120 plus oil doesn't do that either. Look, I think it's sensible for him to go. I'm glad he's actually making the trip. In particular, he wants to see the Saudis increasing their oil production beyond present announced quotas to reduce the price. It's impacting Americans at the pump with record levels right now. He'd love to see Russia thrown out of OPEC Plus. I think that's plausible and beyond that, the possibility that Saudi Arabia and Israel would formally open diplomatic relations, an extension of the Abraham Accords which was one of the biggest accomplishments in foreign policy of the Trump administration. Biden's completely aligned with that and I think he's going to try to push on that. So, I do think there will be some direct takeaways from this trip that'll be positive for the Biden administration.

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Albanese addresses supporters in Sydney after winning Australia's election.

REUTERS/Jaimi Joy

What We’re Watching: Australia elects new PM, Poland hearts Ukraine, Saudis stand by Russia

Albo takes over in Oz

After his Labor Party won Saturday's parliamentary election, Anthony Albanese, known popularly as Albo, is set to become Australia’s new prime minister. But it remains unclear whether Labor has a parliamentary majority: if his party falls just short in the end, it'll be a minority government, so Albanese will need some support from the Greens and climate-focused independents to get laws passed. In a gesture toward both, Albanese announced Sunday that he wants to make Australia a renewable energy superpower — a sharp departure from Scott Morrison, aka ScoMo, his coal-loving conservative predecessor. While mail-in ballots are still being counted, Albanese was sworn in Monday as acting PM in order to attend the Quad Summit in Tokyo on Tuesday. Albanese will need to hit the ground running because Australia is also in the AUKUS security partnership, which China doesn’t like one bit. Just weeks after Beijing inked a deal with the neighboring Solomon Islands that'll allow the Chinese to gain a military foothold in the Pacific, expect the China question to continue dominating Australian foreign policy under the new government.

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Annie Gugliotta

Saudi Arabia reluctant to help lower oil prices this time

As oil prices soar amid the Russia-Ukraine crisis, the US and other Western countries are looking to Saudi Arabia for help. The kingdom is the de facto leader of the OPEC producers’ group and has responded to market shocks in the past by increasing the supply of oil to bring down prices. It has done so partly out of a desire to maintain good relations with the US and to show responsible market management practices. But Saudi Arabia is so far resisting entreaties that it pump more oil this time around. We talked to Eurasia Group expert Sofia Meranto to find out why.

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Regular unleaded gasoline was selling for $3.55 per gallon Friday, Dec. 10, 2021 at the Shell station at the intersection of Knoxville and Nebraska in Peoria.

REUTERS

Can Biden bring down gas prices?

US domestic politics and oil markets have come together in an unprecedented fashion in recent weeks. Soaring gasoline prices and persistently high inflation that are raising concerns about US President Joe Biden’s agenda have prompted extraordinary steps by his administration to bring down prices at the pump. We spoke with the head of Eurasia Group’s energy practice, Raad Alkadiri, to understand these measures and their potential impact.

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What We're Watching: UAE-Saudi rivalry, South Sudan turns ten, Malaysian PM under pressure

Gulf grows between UAE and Saudi Arabia: Global oil prices surged this week to a six-year high after talks between the world's biggest oil-producing countries broke down. So what happened exactly? Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, usually close allies, are at loggerheads over how to boost OPEC oil production in the wake of the pandemic-induced economic crisis: the Saudis, along with the Russians, have proposed extending curbs on oil output levels for another eight months — a proposal vehemently rejected by the Emiratis. Abu Dhabi, for its part, has invested a lot to boost its output capacity, and now that global demand is up again it wants to renegotiate its production quotas within the OPEC framework. Riyadh, on the other hand, wants to cut supply levels so that prices remain high. It's a rare public spat between the two countries, whose leaders — Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Emirati Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed — enjoy a close personal bond, though a rivalry has been deepening in recent years as both try to establish their kingdoms as the top economic hub — and regional power — in the Gulf region.

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Trump's Foreign Policy Legacy: The Wins | Quick Take | GZERO Media

Quick Take: Trump's foreign policy legacy - the wins

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi everybody. It is the last day of the Trump administration. Most of you, probably pretty pleased about that. A majority of Americans, though not a large majority, but certainly a majority of people around the world. And given that that's a good half of the folks that follow what we do at GZERO, that counts to a majority. And look, I ought to be clear, when we talk about the Trump administration and their foreign policy legacy, "America First" was not intended to be popular outside of the United States. So, it's not surprising that most people are happy to see the back of this president. But I thought what I would do would be to go back four years after say, what are the successes? Is there anything that Trump has actually done, the Trump administration has done that we think is better off in terms of foreign policy for the United States and in some cases for the world than it would have been if he hadn't been there? And I actually came up with a list. So, I thought I'd give it to you.

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