Saudi Arabia expects the oil market to balance and prices to stabilise after their six-year lows, according to Saudi oil Minister Ali al-Naimi at a conference on energy security in Berlin.
Oil markets will balance after their rout, prices stabilise. Two key points to come out of an energy conference in Berlin from star guest, Ali al-Naimi. First, the rebuttal. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SAUDI OIL MINISTER, ALI AL-NAIMI, SAYING: "With the recent price drop, OPEC and Saudi Arabia have yet again been maliciously and unfairly criticised for what is in reality a market reaction. Some speak of OPEC's war on shale. Others claim OPEC is dead. Theories abound. They are all wrong." It was a trenchant defence from the Saudi oil minister - OPEC's most influential voice - of Saudi's decision not to cut production - despite a giddy slide in oil prices. If Saudi Arabia and other big OPEC members were to surrender market share, it would, he said, amount to a subsidy for other, higher-cost suppliers. It had done so in the 1980s when other producers had not reciprocated. That had been a mistake. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SAUDI OIL MINISTER, ALI AL-NAIMI, SAYING: "Saudi Arabia remains committed to helping balance the market, but circumstances require other non-OPEC nations to cooperate. Currently, they chose not to do so. They have their reasons. But I would like to be known that Saudi Arabia continues to seek consensus." His outlook for a calmer market with stabler prices was his second sign of cautious optimism recently, last month saying he saw demand building. Though that view does have its detractors. Gemma Godfrey, Investment Manager at Brooks Macdonald. (SOUNDBITE) (English) GEMMA GODFREY, INVESTMENT MANAGER, BROOKS MACDONALD, SAYING: ''What we are concerned about is its move from a supply side issue to a demand side issue by the reflection by people starting to get concerned whether maybe China is not growing as much as we thought. And actually if people aren't consuming as much oil as we thought then that is a longer term headwind for the price, and that is why the consensus on the street is actually that the oil price may stay lower for longer.'' Prices hit a six-year low of 45 dollars a barrel in January. They've picked up since - trading at around 60 dollars as the oil minister spoke. Just over half of where they were in mid 2014.