Opec to raise output if prices rise to $ 100


Jose Botelho de Vasconcelos, who is also Angola’s oil minister, said that both producers and consumers were comfortable with oil prices at between $ 75 and $ 80 per barrel and that higher prices could put a brake on the global economy. “I think that a balanced price is always better,” Botelho de Vasconcelos said before boarding a flight to Brazil on Sunday.

“You know that, if necessary, some countries are open to injecting more oil into the market and that will be done.” Asked if a rise in oil prices to $ 100 per barrel would inevitably prompt Opec to raise production at its December 22 meeting in Luanda, Botelho de Vasconcelos replied: “I believe so. We need to maintain the balance.”

Opec, which controls about a third of the world’s oil production, has been holding down output since September 2008 as the financial crisis hit demand and pressured prices. Before increasing output, Opec will first have to ensure that oil market fundamentals, in terms of supply and demand, are balanced, said Botelho de Vasconcelos, adding that oil stocks remained high while the dollar was weak.

“We know that the dollar has depreciated and that OPEC has played an extremely important role in the global economic recovery,” he said. “We are aware that although oil stocks have been declining they are still at a certain level.” Oil prices reached $ 82 last week, the highest in a year, in a rally many say was triggered by expectations of an economic recovery and a weak dollar rather than a tighter oil supply and demand balance.

Opec’s Secretary-General Abdullah Al Badri said last week that although market fundamentals did not support the current price, the 12-member group was comfortable with oil prices at current levels — especially compared to the price drop to near $ 30 late last year. “The secretary general’s comments are welcome and I believe that they reflect well the sentiment of producing nations and consumers,” said Botelho de Vasconcelos.

Meanwhile, oil prices fell on profit-taking and as a ceasefire took hold in Nigeria, whose crude production has been ravaged by militant attacks in recent years, analysts said. New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in December, dived $ 1.30 to $ 79.20 a barrel. Brent North Sea crude for December tumbled $ 1.17 to $ 77.75 in late afternoon London trade.

Crude oil prices were lower (on Monday) after a leading Nigerian militant group announced an indefinite ceasefire which came into effect at midnight yesterday,” wrote analysts at the Sucden brokerage in a research note. “The militant group has been blamed for reducing Nigerian oil output significantly from full capacity.”

Nigeria’s main armed group in the oil-rich Niger Delta declared on Sunday an “indefinite ceasefire” to encourage dialogue with the government but the Abuja authorities rejected the fighters’ mediation team.


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