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1.8 million barrels surplus causing free-fall of oil prices: Kuwait Oil Minister

1.8 million barrels surplus causing free-fall of oil prices: Kuwait Oil Minister

KUWAIT: Kuwait’s oil minister has said that he expected the prices of crude oil would pick up in the second half of 2015. “The surplus in the market is currently 1.8 million barrels a day and it is the primary reason for the fall in oil prices,” Ali Al-Omair said at a seminar here the other day.

But Al-Omair said members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) agreed that there was no need for another meeting before June.

OPEC declined to cut production at a Nov. 27 meeting and major Gulf OPEC members have since shown no sign of reversing course.

“The price of oil will improve if the production of high-cost oil stops,” Al-Omair said.

Al-Omair pointed to the production of shale oil by the United States at an average cost of $70 to $75 a barrel.

Oil fell to close to $59 a barrel for the first time since May 2009 on Tuesday, extending a six-month selloff as slowing Chinese factory activity and weakening emerging-market currencies added to concerns about demand.

Kuwait’s development projects will not be affected by the drop in oil price, Al-Omair said, adding that the government was looking into the possibility of cutting subsidies on fuel, water and electricity.

New prices for diesel, kerosene and jet fuel will be introduced at the beginning of the new year after subsidies on those fuels are reduced, Al-Omair said.

Brent crude oil moved above $60 a barrel on Wednesday as US data showed falling crude inventories, stemming deep losses brought on by a supply glut and signals from OPEC producers and Russia that they will not cut production.

US Energy Information Administration data showing US crude inventories falling by 847,000 barrels helped curtail losses, despite expectations of a 2.4-million-barrel draw. Analysts said the boost would not last long.

“The decline in overall crude oil inventories was smallish,” said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital LLC in New York. But analysts said any draw helped support the market after Tuesday data from the American Petroleum Institute showed a big build in US crude inventories.

Front-month Brent gained 34 cents to $60.20 a barrel by 1543 GMT. The January Brent contract, which expired in the prior session, hit a low of $58.50 on Tuesday, its weakest since May 2009.

US crude traded 20 cents higher at 56.13, after touching its lowest since May 2009 at $53.60 on Tuesday.

Prices remain close to 5-1/2-year lows, and have almost halved over the last six months as increasing volumes of light, high-quality crude from North American shale have overwhelmed demand.

Core Gulf OPEC members have said they are prepared to wait as long as a year for the market to stabilise, undercutting hopes they will step in to stem crude price losses.

“Every day now you have some Gulf OPEC member actively trying to talk the market down,” said Olivier Jakob, oil analyst at Petromatrix. “OPEC is trying to choke US oil producers.”

Earlier in the day, Iraqi Kurdistan government officials said Iraqi crude oil exports to the Turkish port of Ceyhan could reach 800,000 bpd next year, higher than previously announced. Oil shipments from Angola, Africa’s second-largest exporter, are also set to increase in February to 1.86 million barrels per day, the highest since 2012.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak has said Moscow will not cut output in 2015, even if pressure on its finances rises with the economy showing signs of severe stress as the rouble collapses.

The crisis in Russia has sparked further concerns about energy demand growth.