Saudi minister Falih optimistic about oil market stabilization

Says Riyadh and fellow members of the Gulf want moderation

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Saudi Energy Minister Khaled al-Falih said Thursday he was optimistic about a stabilization of the oil market following an OPEC deal to cut output.

“We believe that the agreement that we refer to between us and OPEC and non-OPEC members will hold,” he said at an energy conference in the UAE.


Falih said Saudi Arabia had exceeded its pledges to cut production, without giving any figures.

“I’m confident that, (with) the commitment of 25 countries and the growth in demand as well as decline (in production), the market will balance and the prices will respond quickly,” he said in Abu Dhabi.

“In 2017 we are expecting demand to continue to grow at the pace we have seen lately at about a million barrels” per day, he added.

Saudi Arabia and fellow members of the Gulf Cooperation Council -- Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE -- “want moderation,” the minister said.

'No specific price target'

“We want prices that are supporting continued production as well as continued consumption,” he added, saying he had no specific price target.

The agreement to cap production came into force on January 1 but doubts remain about implementation before data is released at the end of the month.

Global oil prices fell from more than $100 a barrel in June 2014 to near 13-year lows of less than $30 in early 2016.

They have rebounded since the OPEC deal was struck in late November, clearing the way for a number of non-member countries to pledge cooperation in the bid to boost prices.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate stood at $52.63 per barrel on Thursday, up 38 cents from the previous close.

OPEC Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo described the commitment of member and non-member oil producing countries to reduce production as “unparalleled”.

Iraqi Oil Minister Jabbar al-Luaibi said his country had reduced production by 170,000 barrels per day so far, adding that he hoped for a price of $65 per barrel.

His Kuwaiti counterpart, Essam al-Marzouk, said his country had cut daily production by 133,000 barrels since the end of 2016.

He said the deal had seen compliance of more than 60 percent based on announcements, but that more precise data on cuts would be only be available at the end of the month.

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