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Wikileaks - Saudi asked US to stop oil lawsuits

Steel News - Published on Sun, 13 Feb 2011

According to US diplomatic cables seen by Wikileaks, Saudi Arabia in 2007 threatened to pull out of a Texas oil refinery investment unless the US government intervened to stop Saudi Aramco from being sued in US courts for alleged oil price fixing,.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud deputy Saudi oil minister said that he wanted the US to grant Saudi Arabia sovereign immunity from lawsuits by ordering a Department of Justice statement of interest on its behalf.

The cable said that Prince Abdulaziz told us that King Abdullah specifically had raised the lawsuit issue with Vice President Mr Cheney during his May visit and that the Saudi government would judge the administration\'s willingness to file an SOI as a test of good faith.

It said that Prince Abdulaziz perceives the lawsuits as a threat right now, one that could derail the expansion of the Port Arthur refinery, possibly by the end of the summer.

Recently, Mr Ford M Fraker US ambassador told Prince Abdulaziz that Saudi request was receiving serious consideration. Prince Abdulaziz said that our final decision hinges on what reasons we have to pursue investment. We are facing daunting cases. We are pursuing the engineering but we need solid intervention from the USG to have the comfort we need for this project.

Saudi Aramco at the time was considering the doubling of capacity at the Motiva refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, JV with Shell. It approved the investment in September 2007 and the USD 7 billion expansion is due online in 2012.

Oil prices rose from USD 60 per barrels to USD 90 per barrel in 2007 and Saudi Aramco was taken to court in a number of US district courts on allegations of price fixing in concert with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

OPEC controls output by setting production targets for member countries and came under fire in 2007 and 2008 as oil prices set successive record highs. By 2008 it was pumping close to full capacity. Saudi Arabia is OPEC\'s biggest producer.

(Sourced from Reuters)

Posted By : admin on Sun, 13 Feb 2011
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