Oil prices are expected to stay between $100 and $115 a barrel until mid-year, barring “surprises and geopolitical changes,” Kuwait’s Oil Minister Mohammad al-Basseri said on Monday.
“Oil prices are not expected to slide below $100 a barrel or go above $115,” throughout the first six months of 2012, “barring surprising events or geopolitical changes,” said Baseeri, cited by the state-run KUNA news agency.
He said all indications show that the oil market is balanced and that prices are suitable for consumers and producers, adding that “Kuwait production remained unchanged” at around 3.0 million barrels per day.
Earlier, a top Kuwaiti oil executive said oil prices could soar to as high as $160 a barrel if tension over an Iranian oil embargo persists or in the event of conflict.
“If the embargo on Iranian oil persists, or in case of a military move over the closure of the Strait of Hormuz, oil prices are expected to soar to around $150 to $160,” Kuwait Petroleum Corporation board member Ali al-Hajeri told Al-Seyassah daily.
Hajeri said such a price would not last long, however, and would return to “normal levels” once the reasons for the rise disappear.
The European Union has slapped an embargo on Iranian oil imports, and Tehran has repeatedly threatened to shut the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway for Gulf oil exports, if it was not allowed to export its crude.
Hajeri called the current price of between $100-105 “fair and acceptable to producers and consumers,” and said any higher price would be counterproductive to the global economy.
World oil prices sank on Monday as concerns over the unresolved Greek debt crisis overshadowed worries about supply disruptions in the Middle East and Africa.
New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in March, dropped $1.05 to $96.79 a barrel.
Brent North Sea crude for March delivery shed 67 cents to $113.90 a barrel in London morning deals.