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Middle East

Saudi Arabia says mission accomplished in reducing oil prices

In this Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2007 file photo, Employees of the Saudi Aramco oil company prepare for the first day of the Arab Oil and Gas exhibition in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili, File)

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is satisfied that oil prices have fallen to a level that does not hamper global growth, Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said on Wednesday, signalling success in a Gulf Arab effort to keep oil prices under control despite a halving of Iranian exports because of Western sanctions.

"Our countries have exerted major efforts to restore global oil market stability, a feat that has actually been achieved," Saudi Oil Minister Naimi told a meeting of Gulf Arab energy ministers in Riyadh.

"Stability has been restored and oil prices returned to levels which are suitable to both the consuming and producing nations and to the global economy and its growth," Naimi said.

OPEC's biggest oil producer, Saudi Arabia raised output to a 30-year high of 10 million barrels a day earlier, helping compensate for a cut in exports from Iran, a fellow member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. Riyadh was supported by Gulf allies Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

Sanctions against Iran's nuclear programme had threatened to send oil prices rocketing. That would have further impeded slow Western economic growth and diluted the impact on Iran's oil revenues of the U.S. and European Union measures.

But the extra volumes from Riyadh have helped compensate for a halving of Iranian exports and reversed a spike in prices that took Brent crude to $128 a barrel in March. Brent traded near $112 a barrel on Tuesday.

"We continued our policy of allaying market fears, providing supplies when needed and limiting high price fluctuations during the ensuing months till this present day," said Naimi. He made no mention of Iran in the speech to energy ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Asked by reporters if the aim was to reduce prices to $100 a barrel, Naimi added: "We hope the price will moderate and we will work towards moderating the price."

That would suggest that Riyadh may want to see prices fall further. Naimi identified $100 a barrel as a suitable price during a visit to Japan, a major buyer of Saudi crude, earlier in the year.

 

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