KUWAIT CITY (AFP) -Kuwait on Wednesday accused oil-producing countries that had urged OPEC to cut its output, in a bid to curb sliding prices, of doing the opposite by pumping more crude.
Oil Minister Ali al-Omair defended the oil cartel’s decision last week to maintain production levels, insisting that member states want to keep their market share.
“Everyone wanted you (OPEC) to cut your output while they increased production and flooded the market. This is unacceptable to us and we have to preserve our market share and continue with a production level that covers our needs,” Omair told parliament.
He did not name any country, but appeared to allude to non-OPEC members, mainly oil-rich Russia, the world’s largest producer of crude that had urged OPEC in the past to cut production.
“After discussing the issue of cutting output at OPEC, we found that there was no point in reducing production,” Omair said.
“The output surplus on the international market was 1.8 million barrels per day, and amid a slow world economy there is no point in cutting output while others raced to raise their production,” he said.
He said the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries had sought to coordinate with non-OPEC oil producers over supplies and prices.
“We will not sacrifice our interests for the sake of adjusting market prices,” said the minister who said he hoped the OPEC decision would benefit the market in the future.
Last week’s OPEC decision sent oil prices crashing to five-year lows.
However, crude prices made some gains in Asian trade on Wednesday as traders awaited a US stockpiles report.
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for January delivery rose 52 cents to $67.40, while Brent crude for January gained 35 cents to $70.89 in afternoon trade.
WTI tumbled $2.12 in New York on Tuesday, while Brent fell $2.00 after Iraq announced plans to boost its exports of crude after striking a deal with the autonomous Kurdish region.
Omair said Kuwait was pumping 2.7 million barrels a day, around 300,000 lower than its average daily production for the past three years. A portion of the decline was the result of halting production at a Saudi-Kuwaiti offshore oilfield.