Algeria, Iran warn ‘unstable’ oil market

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Saudi Arabia's Oil Minister Ali Al Naimi (on screen) delivers a speech during the opening session of the OPEC International Seminar in Vienna on Wednesday, 13 June, 2012. Photo - Reuters

Algerian Energy and Mines Minister Youcef Yousfi said on Wednesday the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) faces a real risk due to a slide in crude oil prices caused by the group exceeding its production ceiling.

Earlier, Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi warned OPEC meeting in Vienna that a looming oil embargo on Tehran will destabilise the global oil market and spark higher prices.

Israel and its Western allies insist Iran is trying to develop a nuclear bomb under cover of its civilian programme. Tehran has incessantly denied the allegations as ‘hoax’ and said its purpose is merely peaceful.

“I hope there will be an awareness of the negative effect (of increased oil production) on prices, particularly in recent weeks, and thus OPEC faces a real risk,” Algeria’s official APS news agency quoted the energy minister as saying in Vienna ahead of an OPEC meeting.

“We are witnessing today an increased rate of production by the organisation. Figures are between 31.8 to 32 million bpd. Clearly, we have a surplus of between 1.8 and 2 bpd. It is fatal on prices.”

Yousfi termed the global oil market as “unbalanced” and insisted that falling prices should be discussed at Thursday’s OPEC meeting.

“In recent weeks there is more supply than demand,” he predicted.

“The question (of falling prices) will be seriously discussed Thursday at the ministerial meeting of the organization. I hope there will be a consensus to stop the decline in oil prices,” he said.

Embargo

OPEC members are gathering in Vienna for an oil conference also spoke out against the pending EU sanctions on Wednesday.

“I don’t want to see any of my member countries under embargo, I am really against this 100%,” OPEC secretary-general Abdullah El-Badri said.

“I hope this embargo will be lifted somehow, by discussion and by… peaceful solutions,” he said while speaking to newsmen.

Venezuelan Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez also denounced the sanctions.

“We denounce the embargo again Iran,” he told reporters.

“The EU cannot promote a dialogue with (oil) producers and on the other hand impose sanctions.”

“The sanctions aren’t good for anyone. Restricting access to oil resources and those who have them only complicates the situation at a time when the EU’s economic position is perilous.”

Iran, the second-biggest producer in the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), is already facing four sets of sanctions imposed by US and its Western allies over its nuclear energy programme.

Mixed signals

Meanwhile, the International Energy Agency said OPEC ended a seven-month run of increases by cutting crude production last month. Reports suggest Saudi Arabia and Iraq reduced supplies, .

The 12-member Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) pumped 31.86 million barrels a day of crude last month, compared with 31.89 million in April, the Paris-based IEA said in its monthly Oil Market Report. The agency added that the group’s 30 million output ceiling set in December is still “flirting with four-year highs”.

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