Saudi: Oil price down cycle ‘nearing end’

‘Market fundamentals, in terms of supply and demand, have begun to improve,’ Falih said

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Saudi Oil Minister Khalid al-Falih said Sunday that the current down cycle of crude prices is close to an end as market fundamentals improve.

“The current down cycle is nearing an end,” Falih told a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart Alexander Novak after a Gulf ministerial meeting in Riyadh.

“Market fundamentals, in terms of supply and demand, have begun to improve,” Falih said.

Al-Falih said the points of view between the kingdom and Russia, the world's top oil producer, on the need to stabilise the market “are getting closer.”

“Saudi Arabia has started to play an important role to coordinate between Russia ... and OPEC, specifically the Gulf countries,” Falih said in a news conference with his Russian and Qatari counterparts in Riyadh.

“We have managed today... through a common meeting to reach a common notion to what we can reach in November” Falih said, referring to an OPEC meeting in Vienna on November 30, when the exporting group is set to finalise a production cut agreement.

Novak said that Russia’s production level in any accord to shore up prices would depend on the agreement OPEC members struck between themselves beforehand, and on Moscow’s discussions with the exporter group.

“I would like to stress once again that we are not ready to give figures because consultations are continuing and the levels would be dependent on the final agreement of OPEC and the result of our OPEC negotiations," he told reporters in Riyadh after talks with his Saudi Arabian and Qatari counterparts.

When asked whether Russia would freeze at current levels or cut below them, Novak replied: “We are loooking at a number of options. I don’t want to give the final decision yet but we are considering a few options at the moment.”

Earlier, al-Falih said that he had invited Novak to join the meeting of Gulf Arab oil ministers in Riyadh as part of efforts to cooperate with non-OPEC members to stabilise the oil market.

“Russia is one of the world’s biggest oil producers...and is one of the influential parties in the stability of the oil market,” Falih said at the opening session of the ministers of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Falih said Novak had welcomed the invitation, “as a clear indication of sincere desire to continue cooperation and coordination with the oil producing and exporting countries for more stability in the market.”

Novak had said on Friday he would take “some” proposals to the meeting in Riyadh.

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