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IEA, UAE differ on impact of oil prices

IEA, UAE differ on impact of oil prices.

January 17, 2011 12:32 by

Oil officials differed in their opinion of the impact of rising oil prices, with the head of the International Energy Agency warning on Monday current levels were “alarming.”

“If current price continues, it will have negative impact,” IEA Executive Director Nobuo Tanaka told reporters on the sidelines of an industry conference. The IEA advises industrialised nations on energy policy.

“Global crude oil stocks are still high but they’re declining. OPEC’s spare capacity is diminishing and the supply buffer in the market is getting lower,” Tanaka added.

The UAE’s oil minister, however, played down the IEA’s concern, saying fluctuating prices were a part of the industry right now and not a matter of worry.

“There is no shortage of oil, the market is well supplied. We’re monitoring the market very closely,” Mohammed bin Dhaen al-Hamli told reporters on the sidelines of an energy forum in the UAE capital.

“We’re seeing gradual economic recovery, we are seeing positive signs of economic recovery. We need to see whether this is sustained.”

NYMEX crude fell below $91.50 a barrel, while Brent crude held above $98 for the fourth session on Monday, supported by a strong equities market and a persistently weak dollar.

“The price keeps going up and down and all I can say for now is that we are happy,” Mohammed al-Hamli told reporters.

Al Hamli said markets continued to be well supplied and added he expected positive future demand growth.

With oil prices pushing towards $100 a barrel, the market has kept a close eye on OPEC to see if the group has any intentions of raising crude supplies to rein in prices.

Iran, Venezuela and Libya’s oil ministers have said they see no need for producers to act if oil reaches $100 a barrel.

But the IEA’s Tanaka told reporters OPEC “needs to show more flexibility” in increasing oil production.

Oil hit a record above $147 a barrel in 2008 and while analysts do not expect a repeat of that any time soon there are fears that if OPEC does not signal its intention to add supplies, prices could rise significantly above $100.

(Writing by Shaheen Pasha; editing by Keiron Henderson)

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