Exclusive: Saudi Arabia threatens to ditch dollar oil trades to stop ‘NOPEC’ – sources

LONDON/DUBAI (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia is threatening to sell its oil in currencies other than the dollar if Washington passes a bill exposing OPEC members to U.S. antitrust lawsuits, three sources familiar with Saudi energy policy said. FILE PHOTO: An oil tanker is being loaded at Saudi Aramco’s Ras Tanura oil refinery and oil terminal in Saudi Arabia May 21, 2018. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah

They said the option had been discussed internally by senior Saudi energy officials in recent months. Two of the sources said the plan had been discussed with OPEC members and one source briefed on Saudi oil policy said Riyadh had also communicated the threat to senior U.S. energy officials.

The chances of the U.S. bill known as NOPEC coming into force are slim and Saudi Arabia would be unlikely to follow through, but the fact Riyadh is considering such a drastic step is a sign of the kingdom’s annoyance about potential U.S. legal challenges to OPEC.

In the unlikely event Riyadh were to ditch the dollar, it would undermine the its status as the world’s main reserve currency, reduce Washington’s clout in global trade and weaken its ability to enforce sanctions on nation states.

“The Saudis know they have the dollar as the nuclear option,” one of the sources familiar with the matter said.

“The Saudis say: let the Americans pass NOPEC and it would be the U.S. economy that would fall apart,” another source said.

Saudi Arabia’s energy ministry did not respond to a request for comment. Read more: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-saudi-usa-oil-exclusive/exclusive-saudi-arabia-threatens-to-ditch-dollar-oil-trades-to-stop-nopec-sources-idUSKCN1RH008

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