Iran, Qatar Dismisses Calls for Emergency OPEC Meeting

A00905685.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- Two OPEC oil ministers have dismissed calls for an emergency meeting before September, dampening hopes that members of the cartel will follow Saudi Arabia’s lead and increase production.

Comments from ministers in Qatar and Iran that the world has enough oil indicates a strong lobby within OPEC against opening taps to help reduce prices as demanded by the US.

“The oil market is balanced. There is no threat to or crisis in supply,” Qatar’s Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah said yesterday.

“I don’t think there is a situation that is big or dangerous that requires a meeting before September.”

Iran also said there was no need for a meeting before the scheduled gathering in September.

Iran’s Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari said on Sunday that he did not see any need for an emergency meeting of OPEC member states and expected crude prices to rise with the weakening of the US dollar.

“I believe there is no need for an (emergency) OPEC meeting,” Nozari told FNA, when asked if the group should meet before a scheduled gathering in September.
“Why should there be this meeting when oil prices go up?”

Meantime, the minister also said that the market was “saturated” with crude and any output increase would not affect prices.

“No, the market is saturated with oil and a hike in production does not have an impact on the price,” Nozari said when asked whether OPEC would increase its output.

“This would only increase inventories,” Nozari told reporters in reaction to US President George W. Bush pressing Saudi Arabia to raise oil output.

“The market is oversupplied and increasing production will not affect prices,” the oil minister said when asked whether an OPEC output hike would lower prices.

Oil prices shot to a record high on Friday to near $128 a barrel despite an offer of more supply from Saudi Arabia.

Saudi boosted output by 3.3pc, or 300,000 barrels per day, to loosen up the market and make up for declines from other producers. But Saudi officials said the increase would not reduce prices at the pump.

Meantime, Saudi Arabia stressed that global supply was balanced with demand.

OPEC members blame market speculators and weak US dollar for pushing up the oil price, not a shortage of supply.

US president George W Bush welcomed the Saudi increase but admitted it might do little to stem rising crude prices.

The Saudi output rise is “not enough. It’s something but it doesn’t solve our problem,” the US president told reporters during his Middle East visit. “We’ve got to do more at home,” Bush said, adding that the US must focus on alternative measures to ease the oil crisis.

“Our problem gets solved when we aggressively go for domestic exploration. Our problem gets solved if we expand our refining capacity, promote nuclear energy and continue our strategy for the advancement of alternative energies.”

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