On Friday, April 24th, Texas Congressmen Mike Conaway (TX-11) and Will Hurd (TX-23), along with Alabama congressman Kelly Armstrong (ND-AL), in a bipartisan effort to address plummeting domestic oil prices, called for an investigation by the Department of Commerce into allegations that Saudi Arabia had illegally delivered oil into the US oil market.

Washington, D.C. — Friday, Congressman Mike Conaway (TX-11), led a bipartisan letter with Congressmen Kelly Armstrong (ND-AL) and Will Hurd (TX-23), who together represent the largest oil producing regions in the country, calling on the Department of Commerce to begin an immediate investigation into the potential illegal delivery of crude oil by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia into the United States oil market.

The letter reads, in part:

During a time of unprecedented diminished demand for oil caused by an even more unprecedented global economic upheaval, our domestic producers are struggling to find a market or adequate storage for their product. Meanwhile, there are reports of a “flotilla” of Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCC) heading towards the United States loaded with Saudi crude– estimated at roughly seven times the amount of a typical month’s worth of crude oil.

The impacts of these actions are causing serious consequences for our oil and gas industry and the American communities that support it. At the time of our writing, with millions of barrels steaming towards US markets, the crude market trading at historic volatility, and the world sheltered in place; our communities face staggering employment rates estimated as high as 42% in some areas.

American innovation and gumption have made our domestic producers the envy of the world, and more than capable to compete toe-to-toe with any others. However, they demand a level playing field. For these reasons, we implore your department to move swiftly to investigate the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and hold it accountable for any potential actions to intentionally weaken America’s energy independence and to protect jobs of hard-working Americans.

On April 20th Conaway referenced the drop in the US oil market: “There is no way to sugarcoat this news- oil producers are in for the fight of their lives. To stop prices from hemorrhaging further, it’s critical that we act quickly. Following House Republicans’ calls to use SPR, the Department of Energy is in negotiations for contracts with nine U.S. companies to store domestically produced crude oil in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), which will help alleviate the storage shortages.

“Given today’s news, I am calling on the Department of Commerce to conduct an expedited anti-dumping investigation into Saudi Arabia. Enough is enough. We must use all the tools available in our arsenal.

“It won’t be easy but we will get through this downturn, just like we have in the past. It’s in our West Texas DNA.”

An article on Yourbasin.com cited the cause for the outcry from congressional leaders, “In a letter to Secretary Wilbur Ross, Congressional leaders claim the US oil and gas industry was the deliberate target of sustained and orchestrated attacks to destroy the American energy renaissance and weaken our national security.’

This has been echoed by local energy leaders in the Permian Basin. Latigo Petroleum CEO Kirk Edwards says Saudi Arabia has sent several tankers carrying crude oil to the shores of Texas.

“When you have Saudi Arabia literally dumping millions of barrels of oil a day into the Gulf Coast refining complex at unprecedented low prices and blocking out all the domestic production… there’s no way that can be a free market when you have a foreign country doing that to American producers,” Edwards said.

In the letter to the Commerce Department, Representatives say they have heard reports of Saudi Arabia sending roughly seven times the amount of a typical month’s worth of crude oil. Meanwhile, crude prices plummeted as local producers struggle to find a market for their product or sufficient storage.“