Saudi Arabia’s oil minister said on Wednesday he expected oil prices, which hit a near six-year low in January, to stabilize, signalling cautious optimism about the market outlook.
Giving a speech in the German capital, Ali al-Naimi also urged non-OPEC producers to help balance the oil market, saying it was not up to Saudi Arabia to subsidize higher-cost producers and that circumstances required non-OPEC to cooperate.
“Going forward, I hope and expect supply and demand to balance and for prices to stabilise,” Naimi said. “Global economic growth seems more robust.”
The comments are a further sign OPEC’s top producer is sticking to its policy to defend market share. Last month, Naimi signalled satisfaction with developments, saying he saw oil demand growing and that markets were “calm”.
Oil was trading just above $60 a barrel on Wednesday, up more than 30 percent from a near six-year low close to $45 on Jan. 13.
Prices collapsed from $115 in June due to oversupply, in a decline that deepened after Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries at a November meeting refused to cut output.
At the meeting, Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies argued that the group needed to ride out lower prices in order to defend market share against higher-cost shale oil and other competing supply sources, rather than cut output.
Officials from Russia and some other non-OPEC nations held talks with OPEC ministers on the sidelines of the meeting. But no agreement on cutting supply was reached, OPEC left its output steady and prices fell further.
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