24 May 2007 - 17:57
  • News Code: 105477
Algerian Energy Minister Rules Out OPEC Output Hike

Algerian Energy Minister Chakib Khelil on Wednesday ruled out an increase in OPEC crude oil production to curb prices that are hovering around 70 dollars a barrel.

"The current spike in oil prices is not a result of insufficient supply," Khelil was quoted by the APS news agency as saying in London, where he was attending an international energy forum.


Speaking on the sidelines of the meeting, the Algerian minister who is also vice president of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, added: "OPEC cannot intervene in problems like cuts in Nigerian production and decide to increase the output of its (other) member countries."


"The main reason for the present increase is the decrease in distillate stocks, petrol in particular, as a result of shutdowns at some refineries for maintenance."


As he spoke, the price of Brent North Sea crude for July delivery gained 50 cents to 70.02 dollars in electronic trading.


Meanwhile, New York"s main oil futures contract, light sweet crude for delivery in July, added four cents to 65.55 dollars a barrel in US floor trading.


Prices were fuelled by a US government report which showed that reserves of motor fuel in the United States were weak heading into the peak demand season.


The US Energy Information Administration said gasoline (petrol) stocks rose by 1.5 million barrels in the week to May 18, but remained "well below the lower end of the average range."


Global Insight analyst Simon Wardell said such stocks should rise more sharply in May and June, but refinery outages in the United States have stopped inventories from building.


Energy Minister Khelil commented that "the lack of distillate products will be compensated for by the resumption of operations at refineries which have sufficient reserves of crude, the market does not need to supply any more."


He charged that "speculators have exploited fears in oil markets to hike prices."


The Algerian minister also claimed that Spain had blocked talks held to revise natural gas prices and the access of Algerian energy company Sonatrach to the Spanish market.


"Algeria expressed its desire to move the negotiations beyond their current blocked state, but received no responses to propositions that were transmitted officially to Spain," APS quoted him as saying.


Algeria wants to increase the price of its natural gas sold to Spain by one dollar per 27 cubic meters (945 cubic feet) to bring it into line with the market average.


Spain imports almost nine billion cubic meters of Algerian gas annually.


Sonatrach, meanwhile, has been limited by the Spanish government to selling only one billion cubic meters of gas in Spain, far less than the three billion sought by the Algerian company.




News Code 105477

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