Most oil ministers see no Opec output change
Cairo, December 5, 2009
Oil ministers from Arab producers are comfortable with current crude prices and several see no need for Opec to change its output targets when it meets in Angola this month.
Oil has rallied to above $76 a barrel, around the level leading exporter Saudi Arabia and other Opec members have said is high enough for producers and not damaging to consumers.
'Right now you see the price is okay between $70 and $80, it's close to the target we set, it's almost $75 -- it's good,' Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi told reporters.
But he was evasive when asked what an Opec policy-setting meeting later this month in Luanda should do.
Other ministers gave stronger indications there was no need for change.
'I think the market is very stable...I don't think there will be any change for the time being,' Qatari Oil Minister Abdullah al-Attiyah said.
Libya's most senior oil official took a similar view.
'To tell you the truth, I don't think that any change will be taking place,' the head of Libya's Opec delegation Shokri Ghanem told reporters.
'Doing nothing is going to be the name of the meeting,' he added.
The ministers from the core Gulf Arab producing region were gathering in Friday for a meeting of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries on Saturday.
It was not scheduled to take output policy decisions.
Instead a conference of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries on Dec. 22 in Luanda will wrestle with the task of balancing huge volumes of oversupply against the risk any rise in oil demand could drive up prices and trouble the world economy.
Opec has held its formal output targets steady all year following a decision announced last December to cut supplies by a record 4.2 million barrels per day compared with September 2008.
That decision helped to drive up the oil price from just above $32 a barrel last December to a high for this year of $82 touched at the end of October.
As the oil price has rallied and producer nervousness about dwindling revenues has eased, Opec's compliance with its output targets has lapsed.
However, a huge welter of oversupply, including millions of barrels in floating storage at sea, as well as brimming stores on land, could worry some in the group.
The other cause for concern is possible speculation in the market. Some analysts argue prices should be lower given the levels of excess oil, which could justify an increase in output to prevent the price rising to levels that could set back economic recovery and destroy demand. – Reuters