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French Version

Experts: Oil can surpass $100 if Middle East unrest persists

The current oil price level of $80 per barrel of crude could easily jump to $100 and more if the unrest in the Middle East continues, several Kuwaiti oil experts argued on Sunday. The experts, who were speaking in separate interviews with KUNA, said there was no limit to what oil prices could reach if the current war in the Middle East extended to encompass more countries.

"Nobody can tell what would be the situation with regard to oil prices in case the current military conflict between Lebanon and Israel extended to include more countries," economic expert Jassem al-Saadoun said. "This would be the worst scenario in which oil prices would exceed all boundaries namely the $100 per barrel level."

He added oil prices could easily jump much higher "if oil was used as a bargaining card," bearing in mind that the Middle East has the largest oil reserves in the world. "However, this is not likely at present," he said.

He added that such price hikes were in the interests of neither oil-producing nor oil-consuming nations.

Another expert, Nawal al-Fzeih, who represents Kuwait in OPEC, blamed the current high oil prices on "Middle East geopolitical factors," which she explained as the indirect conflict between the US and Iran over the latter's nuclear activities.

She said another reason for the price hike was the increasing demand for oil by China.

A third oil expert, former Oil Minister Hmoud al-Raqaba, told KUNA oil prices would continue to increase "as long as the current conflict between Lebanon and Israel continues."

He said if OPEC wanted to bring oil prices down there should be more oil produced by OPEC member states.

Beirut,07 24 2006
The Daily Star
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