Last updated: 5 December, 2011

Qatar: Arab Spring won’t affect energy supplies

Energy-rich Qatar moved on Monday to reassure consumer countries that the Arab Spring will not disrupt supplies from the Gulf, as Saudi Arabia stressed its goal to ensure stability on oil markets.

Iran’s oil minister, meanwhile, dismissed EU threats of sanctions on Tehran’s financial and oil sectors, after a top official in Tehran warned that oil prices would skyrocket to $250 a barrel if sanctions were imposed on its energy sector.

“Events in the Arab region raised concern over energy supply … I would like to stress on the commitment made … to maintain oil supply,” Qatar’s emir said at the opening of the World Petroleum Congress in Doha.

“We believe that supply of energy will overcome the crises of instability in the Arab region,” Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al-Thani said.

“We in Qatar,” in cooperation with other producers, are working “to maintain our supplies” of energy to consumer countries, he said.

Uprisings across several Arab states have slashed Libya’s oil production of 1.7 million barrels per day (bpd), disrupted Yemeni gas exports and led to a ban on Syrian oil exports due to sanctions over a crackdown on protests.

But production in the energy-rich Gulf region has been unaffected, with trouble confined to Bahrain in February-March and to limited confrontations between Saudi security forces and protesters from the kingdom’s Shiite minority.

Demonstrations have also been held in Oman and Kuwait but on a relatively small scale.

Also on Monday, Saudi Oil Minister Ali Naimi — in a speech read on his behalf by a ministry official at a conference in Riyadh — said the oil-rich kingdom was pumping more than 10 million bpd of crude oil and gas condensates.

The OPEC kingpin’s oil policy aims to “maintain the stability of the oil market” and provide sufficient energy supplies to meet any shortages or unexpected demand increases, he said.

Saudi Arabia’s official Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries quota is 8.05 million bpd of crude oil, but the International Energy Agency estimated that its production in April was 8.8 million bpd.

Oil prices closed last week up, on the back of rising tensions with Iran and Syria and some promising US job figures.

They pushed higher on Monday in Asia after Iran’s military had reportedly shot down a US drone and ahead of a Franco-German euro rescue meeting.

New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in January, was up 33 cents to $101.29 a barrel.

Brent North Sea crude for January delivery rose 48 cents to $110.42.

Iran’s parliamentary economic commission head, Arsalan Fathipour, predicted that “should America and some European countries impose sanctions on our oil and gas, then global oil prices will hit $250 per barrel,” an Iranian daily reported.

On the sidelines of the Doha forum, Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Ghasemi said he was not “concerned about the threat that the European Union may ban” imports of Iranian oil, Dow Jones newswire reported.

He also said oil prices of above $100 per barrel were reasonable, according to the newswire.

OPEC is to meet in Vienna on December 14, but some ministers have suggested that production levels will not be changed.

“Prices are determined by the market but the supply is enough,” Qatari Energy Minister Mohammed al-Sada told reporters on Sunday.