BERKELEY HEIGHTS, N.J., July 1 (Reuters) - President Donald Trump lashed out at OPEC with a warning to stop manipulating oil markets and piled pressure on close U.S. allies in an interview that aired on Sunday with a threat to sanction European companies that do business with Iran.
The president, in an interview with Fox News' "Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo," also said he would not complete a new NAFTA trade deal with Canada and Mexico until after the November congressional elections.
Trump, who is spending the weekend at his golf property in New Jersey, said in a tweet on Saturday that Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud had agreed to produce more oil.
The White House later walked back the president's comments, saying the king said his country can raise oil production if needed.
Oil prices rose on Friday on worries that U.S. sanctions against Iran would take away significant volumes of crude oil from world markets while oil demand worldwide increases.
Rising gasoline prices could create a political headache for Trump ahead of the November elections by offsetting Republican claims that his tax cuts and rollbacks of federal regulations have helped boost the economy.
On Fox, Trump directed blame at the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, of which Saudi Arabia is a member. Asked if someone was manipulating oil markets, Trump said: "OPEC is and they better stop it because we're protecting those countries, many of those countries."
The president also had tough words for other U.S. allies. Earlier this year, to the chagrin of European partners, Trump said he would pull the United States out of the Iran nuclear agreement secured by world powers.
He said in the Fox interview that European companies would face sanctions if they traded with Iran now.
"Of course. That's what we're doing, absolutely," he said.
Trump will leave for a trip to Europe later this month for a meeting with NATO allies, whom he has criticized sharply for paying too little for their joint defense.
Trade tensions are likely to overshadow that trip. Trump has imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum in response to what he calls unfair trade practices from Europe, Canada, and other allies around the world, who have responded with retaliatory sanctions in kind.
On trade, the president said in the Fox interview that he was not happy with the North American Free Trade Agreement and would not agree a new one until after the November elections.
"I want to wait until after the election," he said.
RELATED: An inside look at Canadian oil mining
An inside look at Canadian oil mining
An inside look at Canadian oil mining
To get a look at the oil sand mines, we rented this Cessna 172, which the pilot was allowed to bring down to 1,000 feet. Through the open window we could see what really goes on in one of the most controversial places on the planet.
The Alberta oil sands are spread across more than 54,000 square miles but we're taking a look at just a small part of it. The red line is an approximate outline of the entire deposit — the green is where we'll be flying.
The petroleum industry is also working to limit surface mining and increase its share of "in situ" production of oil, which drills wells into hard-to-reach deposits, blasts them with steam, and pumps oil products to the surface.
About 20% of Alberta's oil sand deposits can be reached with surface mining. The other 80% is ripe for the in situ method, which has a less visible footprint compared to mining. The split in method of production today is about 50/50.
In situ extraction still impacts wildlife, such as caribou herds, and it takes more energy — and generates more greenhouse gases — to extract oil compared to mining. Critics also say restoring a piece of developed land to its native condition is not realistic.
With the mining method, once the crude oil is pulled from the sand, it's shuttled to an 'upgrader' like Suncor's here on the Athabasca River — one of the sites where the oil from the sands is converted into synthetic crude.
Route 63 is a deadly stretch of road. A family of seven died the day I arrived in Alberta, and their memorial is right across from Syncrude by the side of the road. After taking this photo, Syncrude security arrived and told me to leave.