Qatar warns against oil ''price war''
Qatari Energy Minister Hamad Al-Attiya warned Monday of a "price war" between OPEC and non-OPEC producers if the two sides don't cooperate to stabilize oil prices, the official UAE news agency WAM reported.
"I fear a price war could break out if producers (outside the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) don't cooperate with OPEC," it quoted him as saying on arrival in Abu Dhabi to attend a privatization conference.
OPEC, of which Qatar is a member, has "red lines" when it comes to slashing output, Attiya said. The cartel "cannot cross these lines," because it would risk losing its market share, he said. The Qatari official urged all producers to "cooperate to prevent a repeat of the 1998 scenario," when the price of a barrel of oil fell below $10.
Noting that oil prices had slumped by 25 percent in a month, Attiya expressed concern that "the global recession will increase pressure on prices due to a surplus of one million barrels per day (bpd) on the market during the last quarter" of the year.
"OPEC cannot act without strong support from producers outside the organization, especially since its market share is less than 40 percent," Attiya said. Queried about the output cut OPEC was likely to decide at its November 14 ministerial meeting in Vienna, Attiya said one million bpd was "the closest to reality."
OPEC has sought the support of non-OPEC producers to cut output in a bid to boost prices that have slumped to two-year lows since the September 11 terror attacks on the United States. But major non-OPEC producers have appeared reluctant to commit themselves to specific action with the 11-member cartel.
Russia, the world's leading non-OPEC producer, has ruled out an immediate cutback in its soaring oil production. Norway, the second-biggest non-OPEC oil exporter, said it was "not even discussing" an output cut, and Mexico has also ruled out cuts.
OPEC's output ceiling currently stands at 23.2 million bpd. Iraq, which is not included in the cartel's quota system, says it is pumping around three million bpd. — (AFP, Abu Dhabi)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)