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OPEC head counters Trump criticism

Reuters CALGARY, Canada (Reuters) — The president of OPEC defended the oil producer group on Monday against U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent demands for higher oil output, saying OPEC does not shoulder the blame.

“OPEC alone cannot be blamed for all the problems that are happening in the oil industry, but at the same time we were responsive in terms of the measures we took in our latest meeting in June,” Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries President Suhail al-Mazrouei said in an interview in Calgary, Alberta.

“I feel OPEC is doing its part.”

Trump has accused OPEC in recent weeks of driving gasoline prices higher and stepped up pressure on U.S. ally Saudi Arabia to raise supplies to compensate for lower exports from Iran.

Washington has warned that it will impose sanctions on foreign companies that do business with Iran, in an effort to cut Iran’s exports of crude oil and condensates to zero from over 2 million barrels per day.

Mazrouei said OPEC was willing to listen to major oil-producing countries, including the United States.

OPEC agreed in June on a modest increase in oil production starting in July after its leader, Saudi Arabia, persuaded archrival Iran to cooperate, following calls from major consumers to curb rising fuel costs.

Global oil prices have climbed steadily this year, helped by rising demand, and topped $80 per barrel in May for the first time in 3½ years.

Mazrouei, who also serves as energy minister of the United Arab Emirates, said OPEC member crude producers had enough capacity to handle any unforeseen global supply disruptions.

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