Saudis offer Russia secret oil deal if it drops Syria

 
 
 
 
 
 
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Saudis offer Russia secret oil deal if it drops Syria
 
Saudi Arabia has secretly offered Russia a sweeping deal to control the global oil market and safeguard Russia’s gas contracts, if the Kremlin backs away from the Assad regime in Syria.
 
27 Aug 2013
 
Saudi Arabia has secretly offered Russia a sweeping deal to control the global oil market and safeguard Russia’s gas contracts, if the Kremlin backs away from the Assad regime in Syria.
 
 
 
The talks appear to offer an alliance between the OPEC cartel and Russia, which together produce over 40m barrels a day of oil, 45pc of global output. Such a move would alter the strategic landscape. The details of the talks were first leaked to the Russian press. A more detailed version has since appeared in the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir, which has Hezbollah links and is hostile to the Saudis.
 
As-Safir said Prince Bandar pledged to safeguard Russia’s naval base in Syria if the Assad regime is toppled, but he also hinted at Chechen terrorist attacks on Russia’s Winter Olympics in Sochi if there is no accord. “I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us,” he allegedly said.
 
Prince Bandar went on to say that Chechens operating in Syria were a pressure tool that could be switched on an off. “These groups do not scare us. We use them in the face of the Syrian regime but they will have no role in Syria’s political future.” President Putin has long been pushing for a global gas cartel, issuing the `Moscow Declaration’ last to month “defend suppliers and resist unfair pressure”. This would entail beefing up the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF), a talking shop.
 
Mr Skrebowski said it is unclear what the Saudis can really offer the Russians on gas, beyond using leverage over Qatar and others to cut output of liquefied natural gas (LGN). “The Qataris are not going to obey Saudi orders,” he said. Saudi Arabia could help boost oil prices by restricting its own supply. This would be a shot in the arm for Russia, which is near recession and relies on an oil price near $100 to fund the budget.
 
But it would be a dangerous strategy for the Saudis if it pushed prices to levels that endangered the world’s fragile economic recovery. Crude oil stocks in the US have already fallen sharply this year. Goldman Sachs said the “surplus cushion” in global stocks built up since 2008 has been completely eliminated. Mr Skrebowski said trouble is brewing in a string of key supply states. “Libya is reverting to war lordism. Nigerian is drifting into a bandit state with steady loss of output. And Iraq is going back to the sort of Sunni-Shia civil war we saw in 2006-2007,” he said.
 
The Putin-Bandar meeting was stormy, replete with warnings of a “dramatic turn” in Syria. Mr Putin was unmoved by the Saudi offer, though western pressure has escalated since then. “Our stance on Assad will never change. We believe that the Syrian regime is the best speaker on behalf of the Syrian people, and not those liver eaters,” he said, referring to footage showing a Jihadist rebel eating the heart and liver of a Syrian soldier. Prince Bandar in turn warned that there can be “no escape from the military option” if Russia declines the olive branch. Events are unfolding exactly as he foretold.

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