Gulf OPEC members back keeping ceiling intact

Kuwait Oil Minister said he “strongly believes” that Gulf OPEC members support keeping the cartel’s production ceiling unchanged

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Kuwait Oil Minister Ali al-Omair said on Tuesday he “strongly believes” that Gulf OPEC members support keeping the cartel’s production ceiling unchanged at a crucial meeting this week.

In statements to the official KUNA news agency on arrival in Vienna, Omair said that OPEC’s options were to “either to maintain or increase (the) production ceiling,” ruling out cuts.

The 12-member Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is meeting Friday to decide on production levels for the second half of 2015, amid expectations that production levels will be maintained.

Omair said ministers of Gulf OPEC members which besides Kuwait include heavyweight producer Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar will hold coordination talks ahead of the meeting.

Together, the four Gulf States pump around 17 million barrels per day (bpd) or 55 percent of OPEC’s current output of 31 million bpd. Saudi Arabia alone pumps 10.3 million bpd.

“The global scene requires us to not take a decision that may negatively impact the market, and the options available for OPEC are either to maintain or increase (the) production ceiling,” he said.

Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said on Tuesday that OPEC’s strategy of not cutting output to safeguard market share was working.

Asked if this strategy had been successful, Naimi told reporters: “The answer is yes... Demand is picking up. Supply is slowing. This is a fact. The market is stabilizing.”

Some other members, particularly Venezuela and Iran, have called for a production cut to support prices.

Oil prices have lost almost half their value since June 2014, when Brent traded at about $115 and New York crude at almost $108 per barrel.

Omair attributed the relative rise in oil prices to OPEC having forced some high-cost production offline, especially in the United States and Canada, and to an improvement in global economic growth.

He said he expected oil prices to increase further by the end of the year.

Oil prices fell in Asia Wednesday, reversing steep gains in the previous session as dealers awaited the latest US energy stockpiles report amid concerns about a sustained global supply glut.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for July delivery fell 35 cents to $60.91, while Brent crude for July eased 27 cents to $65.22 in late morning trade.

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