“We’re talking about the biggest oil consumer and the biggest oil exporter in the world, so any kind of rhetoric or change in the relationship has an impact on the industry, not necessarily the price but the relationship,” said Michael Cohen, head of energy commodities research at Barclays.
Saudi Arabia, other OPEC members, and non OPEC producers like Russia, are hoping to extend their production deal, in a bid to push up the price of oil. Due to U.S. surpluses and new output from Libya, oil prices have been soft lately and were just edging back above $50 per barrel on Friday. The fact that U.S. oil production has been relentlessly rising, as Saudis and others cut back is not likely to be discussed.
“I think it’s very unlikely that we would see that as a Saudi talking point: ‘Tell your frackers to cool off.’ That’s not something I would expect to see. This is a very high level strategic dialogue that’s been underway and it started with Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to D.C. a couple months ago,” Cohen said.
Cohen said there could be economic benefits both ways. “It’s important in terms of whether we see the Saudi Aramco IPO listing in New York. It’s important for Saudi Arabia’s national transformation plan, Vision 2030, and there’s a lot of U.S. companies that are are already investing in a big way in Saudi Arabia. The extent to which this meeting will enhance those already existing relationships between companies like Dow Chemical and GE, it will make a difference to the investment community,” he said. Dow Chemical’s CEO was traveling to Saudi Arabia with Trump.
Saudi Arabia has also said it would make investments in the U.S., in energy and other industries.
“When he was in Washington, both sides made mention of Vision 2030 in their sort of comments on the meeting, and it seems as if the Saudis said to the Americans, ‘We will invest in the United States and create American jobs, and we would also like your support for helping us economically transform the country,’ so there is a mutual agreement to work together on this,” said Henderson. “The details of which we don’t know, but there’s also a basic logic for the Saudis to transform their economy. They need to invest a lot of money at home.”
Henderson said Saudi Arabia wants to further develop its relationship with the U.S. politically and militarily.
“If it requires them to make some investments to develop an economic component, then they’ll do that. It’s not necessarily a sensible use of their money, but rather a sort of lever to be able to engage with the U.S. government,” he said.
Watch: What to look for in Trump’s Saudi visit