ALGIERS (Reuters) – OPEC President Chakib Khelil does not rule out oil prices reaching $200 a barrel, even though supply is adequate, because the market is driven by the dollar’s slide, Algerian government newspaper El Moudjahid reported on Monday.
“Questioned about a possible rise which would go to $200, the minister did not rule out this eventuality, explaining that this rise is indexed from now on to the fall in the dollar or to the rise in the dollar,” El Moudjahid reported.
“In terms of fundamentals, stocks are high, demand is easing, supply is satisfactory. Therefore normally, without geo-political problems and the fall of the dollar, the prices of oil would not be at this level,” he was quoted as saying.
Khelil, a former World Bank official, is also Algeria’s Minister of Energy and Mines.
He added: “The prices are high due to the fact of the recession in the United States and the economic crisis which has touched several countries, a situation which has an effect on the devaluation of the dollar, and therefore each time the dollar falls one percent, the price of the barrel rises by $4, and of course vice versa,” he was quoted as saying in brief remarks to journalists on Sunday.
He added that: “If this (the dollar) strengthens by 10 percent, it is probable that (oil) prices will fall by 40 percent.”
If the U.S. economic situation improved from now to the end of the year “that would help the market to stabilize.”
“But I don’t think that an increase in production would help lower prices, because there is a balance between supply and demand and the stocks of gasoline in the United States have recorded a surplus and are at their highest level for five years.”
The independent El Watan newspaper reported Khelil as saying that if the dollar’s value on currency markets stayed as it was at present, then oil prices would be expected to remain at between $80 and $110 a barrel.
(Reporting by William Maclean; editing by James Jukwey)
Mon Apr 28, 2008 5:59am EDT