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May 20, 2019

KSA, UAE see sufficient oil supplies, rising stocks

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May 20, 2019

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia: OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia and key producer United Arab Emirates said Sunday oil supplies were sufficient and stockpiles were still rising despite massive output drops by Iran and Venezuela.

“We see that (oil) inventories are rising and supplies are plenty," Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih told reporters at the start of a key meeting for oil producers in Jeddah. "None of us wants to see the (oil) stocks swell again. We have to be cautious."

The United Arab Emirates´ energy minister said there was no need to relax an OPEC+ deal to cut output by 1.2 million barrels per day to support prices. "I don’t think... that relaxing the cuts is the right measure" based on prevailing market conditions, Suheil al-Mazrouei told reporters. "We have seen inventory building. I don’t think it makes sense (to alter the existing deal)."

The statements by the two ministers send a clear message that OPEC and its allies appear poised to roll over the output cuts deal for another six months. The OPEC+ producers, which include Russia, control more than half of the world´s crude oil production.

Oil exporting countries have been under pressure from Washington to ramp up production to compensate for plunging Iranian exports amid US sanctions on Tehran, but are fearful that such a move could send prices plunging. "The picture is foggy," warned Falih.

"It is crucial that we don’t take hasty decisions", he said. "We should keep inventories under control."

"This complexity and intensity will continue to mount while the sheer range of issues impacting our business is pulling the oil market in multiple opposing directions," Falih said. Sunday’s meeting comes days after sabotage attacks against tankers in highly sensitive Gulf waters and the bombing of a Saudi pipeline -- the latter claimed by Iran-aligned Yemeni rebels. "We have strong (oil) industry security... everybody is vulnerable to extreme acts of sabotage," Falih said.

The meeting will not take decisions on oil output but will make recommendations to another crucial ministerial meeting set to take place in Vienna next month.

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