Oct. 2 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump's tough words for OPEC could have some real teeth if the No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act of 2018 gains momentum.
The proposal, being kicked around in Congress, would allow the U.S. government to sue the oil cartel for limiting the production or distribution of oil and manipulating prices.
Crude oil prices have been trending up in recent weeks as the United States prepares to impose sanctions on Iran. Trump has called on the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to increase production to push prices down. At its most recent meeting, OPEC ignored calls to increase production.
A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers is considering the so-called "NOPEC" bill, claiming that Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Nigeria are violating U.S. antitrust laws. It gives the U.S. Attorney General authority to sue countries in a district court. Senate Bill 3214 amends The Sherman Act, which broke up monopolies a century ago.
"Given how politically sensitive gasoline prices are and how much political support suing OPEC would have, it interjects enormous risk" into the oil market, said Bob McNally, president of the Rapidan Energy Group.
Trump slammed OPEC in a Tweet before the oil cartel met with leaders of other oil producers, including Russia.
We protect the countries of the Middle East, they would not be safe for very long without us, and yet they continue to push for higher and higher oil prices! We will remember. The OPEC monopoly must get prices down now!- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 20, 2018
Adding fuel to the fire, Trump wrote in a 2011 book that Congress should pass NOPEC.
The Saudis are taking this seriously -- they recently hired a lobbyist in Washington D.C. to fight the bill.
Crude oil remained strong Tuesday, holding on to the gains they made Monday. Brent remains at $85.18 a barrel while WTI is trading at $75.37 at mid-day.
In other oil news, Kuwait has not exported crude oil to the United States in four weeks, the Energy Information Administration reported. Asian markets are proving to be more lucrative than the United States for the emirate.