RIYADH: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman discussed on Wednesday with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson the conflict in Ukraine and other regional and international issues, Saudi Press Agency reported. 

Saudi Arabia and the UK signed a memorandum of understanding to form a strategic partnership council during the prime minister’s visit.

Johnson, who was in the United Arab Emirates earlier on Wednesday, is on a visit to the Gulf as part of efforts to secure more oil supplies and increase pressure on President Vladimir Putin over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

He will be seeking greater investments in the UK’s renewable energy transition and ways to secure more oil to lessen British dependence on Russian energy supplies.
His visit, though, is also about pressing these two major OPEC producers to pump more oil, which would have an immediate impact on Brent Crude prices that nearly touched $140 a barrel in trading last week. Prices have eased to around $100 in recent days, in large part due to new pandemic lockdowns in China.

Russian President Vladmir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine is “causing global uncertainty and a spike in the price of oil,” Johnson told reporters in Abu Dhabi ahead of his meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed.

“Everybody can see the effect of the increase in gas prices that’s coming through,” he added.

Because of Europe’s reliance on Russian oil and gas, Putin has been “been able to blackmail the West to hold Western economies to ransom,” he said.
“We need independence,” Johnson added.

Biden ordered a US ban on Russian oil imports after the war, and cautioned that Americans will feel pain, too — at the gas pump. Yet, he declared, “Defending freedom is going to cost.”

The COVID-19 pandemic pushed demand for oil down, with Brent Crude prices averaging around $42 a barrel in 2020 before climbing to $70 last year on the back of a deal by major oil producers to drastically curb production.

The deal, led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, calls for gradually increasing production levels each month as economies recover, but it did not account for the impact of the war in Ukraine, launched by Russia three weeks ago.

The UAE’s energy minister as recently as last week said the country is “committed to the OPEC+ agreement and its existing monthly production adjustment mechanism.”

The Biden administration dispatched two officials last month to Riyadh to talk about a range of issues — chief among them global energy supplies.

In a call with Biden prior to the visit, King Salman doubled down on “the importance of maintaining the agreement” that is in place between OPEC producers and Russia, according to a Saudi readout of the call.

“The reason for coming here is that it’s not just that they’ve got oil. They’re also some of the biggest investors here, in the Gulf, in UK renewables,” Johnson said in Abu Dhabi.