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Sat, Jul 04, 2009 - Page 10 News List

Crude oil at US$60 ‘normal,’ OPEC president says


An oil price of US$60 a barrel is “normal,” OPEC president Jose Maria Botelho de Vasconcelos said in Beijing yesterday.

It is necessary to “rebuild stability” in oil markets, de Vasconcelos said at the Global Think Tank Summit, based on a translation of his comments on the conference’s Web site.

On June 23, OPEC secretary-general Abdalla el-Badri said at a press conference in Vienna that oil prices as high as US$80 wouldn’t jeopardize a worldwide economic recovery.

In Asian trading yesterday, crude oil prices recovered from earlier losses but investors fretted over the US economy after the jobless rate surged to a 26-year high.

New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery next month, firmed US$0.29 in afternoon trade to US$67.02 a barrel.

Brent North Sea crude for delivery next month gained US$0.16 to US$66.81.

Oil prices are likely to remain under pressure until economic data point to a firm turnaround in US fortunes, which will in turn lead to stronger energy demand, Merrill Lynch analysts said in a report.

“Beyond any help arising from equities ... crude oil market fundamentals look fragile. No doubt, a rally in equities or a weaker US dollar could support higher oil prices,” they said.

“But anyway you cut it, oil demand is still extremely weak ... In sum, we believe oil prices will struggle to push higher over the next three months,” they said.

OPEC, which pumps 40 percent of the world’s crude oil, “will not go for any further increase in production” as global supplies remained in surplus, Kuwaiti Oil Minister Sheikh Ahmed al-Abdullah al-Sabah said on Thursday.

The group, which kept oil production quotas unchanged at a summit on May 28, is scheduled to hold a policy meeting to discuss the issue on Sept. 9 in Vienna.

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