Abu Dhabi (AsiaNews) - "Irresponsible" production by non-OPEC countries is undermining the oil market, cutting prices by half in just a few months, said Suhail Al Mazrouei, the Energy Minister of the United Arab Emirates, in an interview yesterday. Saudi Arabia's Petroleum and Mineral Resources Minister Ali al-Naimi agrees.
Yet, despite declining demand, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) decided to keep oil production at 30 million barrels a day last November. This has led the price of barrel to drop to US$ 55, the lowest in the last five years.
In the past, OPEC usually cut production based on market trends; this time output was not touched. So far, analysts thought that Saudi Arabia sought to penalise the United States, a major shale oil producer, and Iran, Riyadh's main contender for hegemony of the Middle East.
Yesterday, the Saudi minister made it clear that the price war was not "politically" motivated but was an attempt to push non-OPEC countries to curb their production and reach an agreement with OPEC. Without an agreement, OPEC would let the market weed out the weakest. With oil lower prices, high cost oil producers would be forced to cut back.
According to OPEC - which meets about 41.9 per cent of the world's needs in crude oil - non-OPEC countries are responsible for a surplus of more than 2 million barrels of oil a day.
The United States, Russia, Mexico, and Norway are among the non-OPEC countries targeted.
Still, OPEC Secretary General Abdullah al-Badri expects oil prices to rise again by the second half of 2015.