Iraqi oil minister blames traders for high crude prices

19 May 2008

Iraq's Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani has dismissed suggestions that more oil needs to be pumped to reduce record crude prices, blaming the situation on speculative trading from hedge funds.

“There is certainly enough oil,” Shahristani tells MEED on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

“The problem we have is with these speculative traders. They push it [the price] up, so what can we do?”

West Texas Intermediate crude hit a new record of $127.40 on the New York Mercantile Exchange in early trading on 19 May, a 1 per cent gain on the previous high of $126.29 on 16 May and the highest level since the start of futures trading in 1983.

Shahristani confirms that Iraq has added 500,000 barrels-a-day (b/d) to its own production in the last six months, although he declined to give an overall supply figure.

On 16 May, Saudi Arabia revealed it had lifted its supply by 300,000 b/d, a 3.3 per cent increase, to 9.45 million b/d, although the move has done little to lower prices.

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