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Anti-OPEC bill: OPEC could also try to hit back on US

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Baku, Azerbaijan, Feb.13

By Leman Zeynalova – Trend:

The overall impact of the US anti-OPEC bill can be huge, and is politically and not economically motivated, Cyril Widdershoven, a Middle East geopolitical specialist and energy analyst, a partner at Dutch risk consultancy VEROCY and SVP MEA-Risk, told Trend.

Widdershoven noted that when looking at the current oil situation on the market, OPEC is behaving very positively for US consumers and producers, as there are still lower prices and stability in the market.

To now put legislation in place that will threaten the immunity of OPEC as a sovereign entity however could change the whole picture, the expert believes.

"US court case will for sure be met by extreme high repercussions by the so-called cartel members, especially by Saudi Arabia, UAE or Iraq. Iran is out of all, as this is also in the sanctions. By putting threats in court oil producing countries will be faced by immense fines or possible blockage to operate in US. This will not be taken lightly by all," said Widdershoven.

He said a potential outcome of this could be that OPEC producers, Saudi Arabia and UAE will cut export volumes to US to a minimum.

"OPEC could also try to hit back on the USA, particularly by putting more oil on the market, which would lower the price and hurt the 10s of 1000s of shale oil companies currently providing energy security or wealth in the US. Part of them are voters for Trump so this could be a boomerang," noted the expert.

A legal threat already could force OPEC producers to further cozy up to Russia, and look for more in-depth geopolitical, military and economic relations with non-US friends in Asia, according to Widdershoven.

"Be clear about the fact that a US court order blocking assets and operations of OPEC producers will have a detrimental effect on US oil, gas and other companies operating in these countries. Possible blockage or appropriation would be considered," he concluded.

US House of Representatives committee approved a bill on Feb.7 that would open up the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to antitrust lawsuits.

The House Judiciary Committee passed the bipartisan bill, known as the No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act, or NOPEC, on a voice vote.

The legislation would change U.S. antitrust law to revoke the sovereign immunity that has long protected OPEC members from U.S. lawsuits. It allows the U.S. attorney general to sue the oil producers group or any of its members on grounds of collusion.

Versions of the bill have appeared without success in Congress for the past 20 years. The committee also approved a version of the bill last year by voice vote, but it never reached the full House for a vote.

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