A group of bipartisan U.S. senators on Wednesday said they have reintroduced legislation to pressure the OPEC oil production group to stop making output cuts.
The so-called No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels, or NOPEC, bill was reintroduced by Senators Chuck Grassley, a Republican, and Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat, as well as others on the Judiciary Committee.
If passed by the committee, both chambers of Congress and signed by President Joe Biden, NOPEC would change U.S. antitrust law to revoke the sovereign immunity that has protected OPEC+ members and their national oil companies from lawsuits over price collusion.
Several attempts to pass NOPEC over more than two decades have long worried OPEC’s de facto leader Saudi Arabia, leading Riyadh to lobby hard every time a version of the bill has come up.
The bill passed the committee 17-4 last year after the OPEC+ producer group, led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, agreed to cut output by 2 million barrels per day but moved no further.
“The oil cartel and its member countries need to know that we are committed to stopping their anti-competitive behavior,” said Grassley, a supporter of the corn-based ethanol fuel industry.
Klobuchar said, “Current law has made the Justice Department powerless to stop the 13 largest oil-producing countries from manipulating prices and driving up costs.”