Saudi Arabia's oil minister has defended his country's refusal to cut production, arguing that demand for oil is set to increase in the second half of the year.
Speaking to reporters in Vienna late Monday, Ali al-Naimi said, "the answer is yes," when asked if Saudi Arabia's strategy of maintaining its production levels in order to retain its global share of the oil market was working.
"Demand is picking up. Good! Supply is slowing, right? That is a fact," he said ahead of a key meeting of the Organization of Petroleum-Exporting Countries (OPEC) on Friday, according to Reuters.
"You can see that I'm not stressed, I'm happy."
His comments appear to pour cold water on any expectations that Saudi Arabia -- the most influential member of OPEC – is going to call for a cut in the group's oil production, in a bid to reduce supply and support prices.
Over the last year, the price of benchmark Brent crude has fallen from a high of around $114 a barrel to trade around $65.55 a barrel Tuesday. U.S. crude was trading around $60.97 a barrel.