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Saudis Hope Canada Clash Will Not Affect Oil Sales

Riyadh believes “the kingdom’s petroleum supplies to countries around the world are not to be impacted by political considerations”.Riyadh believes “the kingdom’s petroleum supplies to countries around the world are not to be impacted by political considerations”.

Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said the diplomatic rift with Canada will not disrupt the kingdom’s oil sales to Canadian customers, an announcement that demonstrates there are limits to the retaliation Riyadh is willing to mete out in the dispute over Canada’s criticism of the kingdom’s human rights practices.

Khalid al-Falih also said on Thursday that his country does not think politics should interfere with oil sales, the Global and Mail reported.  A statement issued by the official Saudi Press Agency said Riyadh believes “the kingdom’s petroleum supplies to countries around the world are not to be impacted by political considerations" and the diplomatic crisis between Canada and his country will not affect state oil firm Saudi Aramco’s "relations with its customers in Canada”.

Canada’s consumption of Saudi oil is relatively small. It brought in 15% of its oil imports from the kingdom in 2017, according to Statistics Canada.

For the first six months of 2018, Canada imported an average of 121,415 barrels a day from Saudi Arabia, the National Energy Board said. Most of these imports go to the Irving Oil Refinery in Saint John. The Saudi assurances on oil come in the wake of four days of retaliatory announcements from Riyadh after Canada’s public call last week for the “immediate release” of women’s rights activists jailed by the kingdom.

Riyadh has recalled its ambassador, stopped exports and asked 16,000 students to return home from Canada. And if Ottawa decides to return fire, the first thing it is expected to do is stop the import of Saudi oil.

Naif Alsudairy, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Canada, said in an interview the Canadian government’s decision to publicly call for the “immediate release” of jailed activists in his country was particularly galling for Riyadh because it implies that Canada is judging the kingdom’s legal system.

However, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has signaled he is not backing down in the escalating Canada-Saudi rift, but also acknowledged earlier this week he does not seek conflict with the kingdom. “We do not want to have poor relations with Saudi Arabia,” Trudeau told journalists.

 

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