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$60 Oil Not ‘Unthinkable’ This Year – Saudi Energy Minister

oil price, Saudi
Posted: Oct 10, 2016 at 12:43 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Khalid al-Falih, Saudi Arabia’s Energy minister said that he was optimistic major oil producers could agree to cut production by November and that it wasn’t “unthinkable” that crude prices could rise another 20% this year to $60 a barrel.

“I think the role of responsible producers around the world, and Saudi Arabia considers itself to be the leading one, is to try to balance supply and demand in a very responsible way,” Mr. Falih told a conference in Istanbul this week that has become a meeting point for major oil producers to try to hammer out a tentative agreement to reduce output. It follows an agreement in principle reached in Algiers last month.

The minister’s words confirmed a decisive shift in policy by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries toward a return to market intervention—a role the oil cartel seemed to abandon two years ago when it refused to step in to prop up sinking prices. A production cut is meant to reorder the supply and demand landscape and push prices up during a historic market slump.

OPEC, the 14-nation cartel that controls over a third of the world’s oil, agreed on September 28 to a modest production cut, aiming to curb its current record high output to between 32.5 million barrels a day and 33 million barrels a day—a reduction of roughly 1% to 2%.

Significant questions remain over the deal, including how much each country will cut and when. OPEC members Iran, Libya and Nigeria—where there have been significant oil-production disruptions—are exempt from cutting output, further clouding the deal’s effectiveness.

Mr. Falih said accommodating these members and managing uncertainties over the supply and demand balance in the market is the reason OPEC has set itself a range for its production volume rather than a hard target. He warned that the producer group must remain flexible to avoid a supply shock as the market tightens.

“I think a band would be able to make sure the ceiling can accommodate,” Mr. Falih said, adding that because of demand uncertainties “OPEC needs to make sure we don’t kill too much and create a shock.”

Here in Istanbul, Mr. Falih is joining an effort to get non-OPEC members to participate in output cuts, including Russia, which produces more crude oil than any other country. Mr. Falih confirmed he is meeting with Russia’s energy minister this week to discuss cooperation and said non-OPEC producers should “absolutely” participate in efforts to balance the market.

Oil prices rose on Monday on hopes that Russia would participate in a deal, with Brent crude, the international benchmark, going up 0.83% to $52.35 in London trading. The International Energy Agency’s chief, Faith Birol, told reporters in Istanbul that non-OPEC participation in the OPEC production cuts would help supply and demand rebalance faster than predicted.

Oil ministers from a host of countries are gathering in Turkey this week for the World Energy Congress, an energy industry conference. OPEC energy ministers from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Venezuela and Algeria are expected to use the gathering to hammer out more details of the planned production cuts.