In what will surely renew the call for energy independence, OPEC’s president on Monday warned that oil prices could hit $200 a barrel and there would be little the cartel could (or would) do to help. According to the Financial Times, the comments made by Chakib Khelil, Algeria’s energy minister, came as oil prices continued to hover near $120 a barrel, putting pressure on the already struggling U.S. economy.
Khelil blamed record oil prices on the weakness in the dollar and global political insecurity. But Democrats were having none of it. The Times says Charles Schumer and other lawmakers pin the blame directly on OPEC and specifically on Saudi Arabia, its largest and most powerful member. In a letter to President Bush last week, the senators noted Saudi Arabia had cut its oil production by about 2 million barrels a day over the past three years even though oil prices had continued to rise.