Oil and Gas

OPEC Says Has Done Enough to Cool Record Oil Price


OPEC has done its utmost to satisfy the world's demand for fuel and pumping even more crude will do little to halt oil's rally towards $88 a barrel, officials said on Tuesday.

There is no fundamental justification for a price run-up that has lifted oil from below $70 in mid-August, say officials from the group that pumps more than a third of the world's oil.

"OPEC cannot do much now," Libya's top oil official Shokri Ghanem told Reuters. "OPEC did all that it can."

At its meeting in September, with oil a touch below $80, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed to boost output by 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) from Nov. 1 to soothe consumer concerns of tight supplies and costly fuel.

But oil is now closing in on the inflation-adjusted high of $90.46 seen in 1980, with investors citing rising tension between Turkey and Kurdish separatists in Iraq, robust oil demand growth, tight fuel stockpiles and a weak dollar.

OPEC officials are brushing aside worries over supply, insisting they are shipping more than enough crude to consumers.

They are placing the blame on speculative hedge funds and political tension.

"The market fundamentals are in balance. There is too much money coming into the market," Indonesia's OPEC Governor Maizar Rahman told Reuters, referring to speculative investors who see energy as a good bet.

Leading OPEC producer Saudi Arabia, the driving force behind the November increase, has yet to make public comment.

But delegates from two OPEC countries in the Middle East said they were unaware of any talk of raising supplies beyond the extra 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) agreed from Nov. 1.

"I have not heard of any talk of a further OPEC output increase," said one of the delegates, declining to be named.

The second said he had heard nothing from other OPEC members suggesting a further production hike was on the cards.

With ministers in the Gulf only just returning to their desks after the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, it may take time to contact everyone involved, said an OPEC source.

Heightened political tension is also behind the price spike, said OPEC officials.

"It is not because of a lack of crude oil," said Libya's Ghanem. "There is all the uncertainty in Iraq and the Gulf area."