US legislation that could open members of oil producing group OPEC+ to antitrust lawsuits has emerged as a possible tool to tackle high fuel prices, after the body said it would slash production despite lobbying by the Biden administration.
What is the NOPEC bill?
- The bipartisan NOPEC bill would tweak U.S. antitrust law to revoke the sovereign immunity that has protected OPEC+ members and their national oil companies from lawsuits.
- If signed into law, the U.S. attorney general would gain the option to sue the oil cartel or its members, such as Saudi Arabia, in federal court.
- It is unclear exactly how a federal court could enforce judicial antitrust decisions against a foreign nation.
- The United States could also face criticism for its attempts to manipulate markets by, for example, its planned release of 165 million barrels of oil from the emergency oil reserve between May and November.
- Some analysts have said that NOPEC could lead to unintended blowback, including the possibility that other countries could take similar action on the United States for withholding agricultural output to support domestic farming, for example.