03/07/2008, 00.00
PERSIAN GULF
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Gulf States oil policies ignore Western interests

US chastises Gulf States for ignoring the interests of their Western allies following OPEC’s decision not to increase output. Experts explain however that the reasons for the refusal are based on “technical data.”

Kuwait City (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Washington is not happy following the decision in Vienna last Wednesday by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar as well as the other OPEC member states to keep current production levels, effectively rejecting the US request to increase output to force crude prices down. Yesterday a barrel of oil passed the US$ 105 mark.

The Gulf States, which account for almost half of OPEC's current production of 29.67 million barrels a day, had been perceived as the moderate voice in the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries that echoed appeals by the world's biggest consumers.

Now Gulf monarchies are becoming more pragmatic in their oil policy, increasingly basing it on market fundamentals rather than political considerations. Prices have also shown little effect on consumption.

“The US is not willing to read market figures correctly. US gasoline stocks, for example, have reached their highest level in 14 years and US inventories have risen for six consecutive weeks,” leading oil analyst Kamel al-Harami said.

“High oil prices are not because of tighter supply. It is more because of the weak dollar, speculations and financial markets interference in the oil market. OPEC can do little here,” Harami said.

“Based on fundamentals and logic, actually OPEC should have cut production because of a seasonal ease in demand in the second quarter,” he added.

The decision not to increase production was “purely technical and based on accurate data,” said experts from oil producing nations.

They noted that together OPEC’s 13 members produce only 40 per cent of the world's oil and that they are working at almost their full sustainable capacity.

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