US President Donald Trump called Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Saturday and they discussed efforts being made to maintain supplies to ensure oil market stability and global economic growth. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

INTERNATIONAL – US President Donald Trump called Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Saturday and they discussed efforts being made to maintain supplies to ensure oil market stability and global economic growth, Saudi state news agency SPA reported.

The call comes days after the US president criticised Opec for high oil prices and called again on the exporting group to boost crude output to cool the market ahead of midterm elections in November for US Congress members.

Saudi Arabia is the world’s top oil exporter and Opec’s de-facto leader.

Speaking at the UN General Assembly in New York last week, Trump said Opec members were “as usual ripping off the rest of the world”.

“I don’t like it. Nobody should like it,” Trump said on Tuesday.

“We defend many of these nations for nothing, and then they take advantage of us by giving us high oil prices. Not good. We want them to stop raising prices, we want them to start lowering prices.”

The White House said in a statement that the two leaders had a call “on issues of regional concern”, without giving further details.

Oil prices rose more than 1 percent on Friday, with Brent climbing to a four-year high, as US sanctions on Tehran squeezed Iranian crude exports, tightening supply even as other key exporters increased production.

Brent crude LCOc1 futures settled at $82.72 (R1 173) a barrel, while US West Texas Intermediate crude CLc1 futures settled at $73.25 a barrel.

Saudi Arabia is expected to add oil to the market to offset the drop in Iranian production. Two sources familiar with Opec policy told Reuters that Saudi Arabia and other Opec and non-Opec producers had discussed a possible production increase of about 500 000 barrels a day.

But Opec and other major oil producers have so far ruled out any immediate official increase in output. The move effectively rebuffed Trump’s calls on oil producers to take action.