International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde on Saturday praised Gulf Arab countries’ good management of oil prices and reserves.
“It gives me an opportunity to thank the GCC countries for their ... stabilizing role in the global economy because of the good monitoring and good management of oil prices ...” Lagarde said.
Lagarde was speaking at a news conference after meeting with senior officials of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which groups six wealthy oil-exporting countries - Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman.
She predicted “sustainable growth but at slightly reduced rates in the years to come” for the GCC countries, which are Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman. She also praised Saudi Arabia for helping to stabilize international markets.
Since OPEC ministers last met in June, Brent crude oil prices have surged about 20 percent and have hovered around $112-$117 a barrel since mid-August, despite fragile economic growth in many consuming countries.
Last month, head of the International Energy Agency (IEA), which represents 28 importing countries, said high oil prices were a concern for these nations.
In effort to cap high oil prices, sources told Reuters the United States is considering an emergency oil stocks release. Other members of the IEA, such as France and Great Britain, could also join the move.
The Gulf States have managed to maintain high production levels, making up for lower supplies from Iran because of sanctions, and outages in the North Sea.
Top oil-exporter Saudi Arabia’s supply remained steady at 9.8 million barrels per day (bpd) in July and August, off multi-decade highs of over 10 million bpd earlier in the year.
The big three Gulf OPEC producers - Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates - collectively increased supply by around 400,000 bpd thanks to a 600,000 bpd jump in Kuwaiti production to 3 million bpd.
“Christine Lagarde worked hard to employ Arab nationals in the IMF,” Saudi finance minister Ibrahim Abdelaziz al-Assaf said. He said discussions with the IMF will focus on monetary policies.
Earlier this year, GCC members pledged billions of dollars in additional financial resources to the IMF, and they have promised billions more in aid to poorer Arab states since last year’s uprisings in the region.
Meanwhile, Lagarde said the IMF will enter partnership with Gulf States and start talks with Egypt.