$60 to $70 is a fair price for a barrel of oil, Egypt's petroleum minister says

There is a fair price for a barrel of oil and OPEC and its non-OPEC partners are close to achieving it through their deal to cut production, according to Egypt’s Petroleum Minister Tarek El-Molla.

“If prices of crude increase significantly we would start to see inflation and an exaggeration in the slowdown in consumption from the other side. If we see prices go down below a certain price then we will see a slowdown in investments,” he said.

“So, actually, the fair equation is to have a balanced price between the producers and the consumers whereby each party is happy and to continue the growth of the global economy.”

Egypt is a significant oil and natural gas producer in the Middle East although it’s not a member of OPEC and its output is dwarfed by members of the oil producing group and other non-OPEC producers like Russia.

Egypt is aiming to boost production modestly in 2019, to 670,000 barrels a day, although its output still trails that of others in the region. The latest figures from OPEC’s monthly report in January showed that Egypt’s oil producing neighbors to the west, Libya and Algeria, produced 928,000 barrels a day and a million barrels a day respectively in December. OPEC lynchpin Saudi Arabia produced 10.5 million barrels a day.

OPEC and non-OPEC producers including Russia (collectively known as ‘OPEC plus’) have collaborated in recent years on cutting or increasing their oil production in a bid to stabilize oil prices which have been volatile since 2014.

They last agreed in December to cut oil production by 1.2 million barrels a day in order to put a floor under prices, which have fallen due to rising oil supply and lackluster demand amid an uncertain global growth outlook.

On Monday morning, Brent crude futures were trading at $ 61.87 a barrel while West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures was trading at $ 52.25 a barrel. Prices took a dip in the early trading session on Monday after data showed drilling activity in the U.S., now the world’s largest oil producer, had increased again, pointing higher production.

The OPEC-Plus deal has not yet been realized fully with Russia slower to meet the desired output cut. Once the 1.2 million barrel a day cut was reached, El Molla said “I think it will adjust, and reach, the desired outcome of price.”

Speaking to CNBC’s Dan Murphy at the Egypt Petroleum Show, ‘EGYPS, ‘taking place in Cairo, El Molla said oil markets were “somehow close” to a price that can keep both oil producers happy because although oil prices have fallen from peaks of around $ 114 a barrel in mid-2014, production costs have also fallen with technological advances.

“With the advancement of technology, new ways of producing oil have added new volumes to the market and this technology means you’re reducing the cost per barrel, and what might have been accepted a few years ago back when we were talking about $ 100, or $ 90 or $ 80, a barrel oil wouldn’t be accepted now.”

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