Sen. Ted Cruz told CNBC on Monday he and eight other GOP senators recently ripped into the Saudi ambassador in a conference call over the oil price war with Russia that has threatened to put American producers out of business.
In a “Squawk Box” interview, Cruz said the call with Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud was “as candid a call, and direct a call, as I’ve ever had with a foreign leader.”
“We quite frankly unloaded on her,” the Texas Republican said.
Oil prices have plummeted as Saudi Arabia and Russia remain locked in a price war that began after Russia earlier this month rejected an additional 1.5 million barrels per day production cut proposed by OPEC.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude briefly dipped below $20 on Monday. Brent, the international benchmark, fell to its lowest price in nearly 18 years.
Following Russia’s rejection, Saudi Arabia slashed its official oil price and announced that it will increase production to 12.3 million barrels per day when the current production cuts expire at the end of March. Tanking prices have made it unprofitable for many U.S. firms to to remain active, analysts have said.
Cruz said the senators warned that they would take action against Saudi Arabia if the “economic warfare” continued, though he did not mention any specific retaliatory measure.
“We said. ‘Look, there are a whole series of steps we can take to escalate foreign policy pressure’ — and we outlined a number of them — ‘if you continue engaging in economic warfare against the United States, trying to drive down the price of oil in order to exploit this coronavirus crisis to drive a bunch of American producers out of business.’”