OPEC President Chakib Khelil predicted that the price of oil will climb to $170 a barrel before the end of the year, citing the dollar's decline and political conflicts.
``Oil prices are expected to reach $170 as demand for fuel is growing in the U.S. during the summer period and the dollar continues to weaken against the euro,'' Khelil said today in a telephone interview. The leader of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries also serves as Algeria's oil minister.
Political pressure on Iran and the depreciation of the U.S. currency have caused a surge in oil prices, Khelil said. New York- traded crude has more than doubled in a year and touched a record $142.99 a barrel yesterday on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
OPEC ministers generally say that oil output is sufficient, even as Saudi Arabia, the biggest producer, pledged to pump an extra 200,000 barrels a day next month to calm the market. ``The market is completely supplied,'' Venezuelan Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said yesterday. Libya announced possible production cuts, calling the market oversupplied.
The rising cost of crude is not linked to supply, Khelil said today. ``There is more than enough oil in the market to meet the international demand,'' added the OPEC president, who will take part June 30 in an international energy forum in Madrid.
Prices, which are up 38 percent this quarter, are heading for the biggest quarterly gain since the first three months of 1999, when oil traded between $11 and $17.
``The decisions made by the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank helped the devaluation of the dollar, which pushed up oil prices,'' Khelil said.
Oil may extend gains if the ECB boosts rates on July 3, further weakening the U.S. currency. The dollar has declined 15 percent against the euro in 12 months.
ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet reiterated June 25 that policy makers may increase the main refinancing rate by a quarter-percentage point next month to contain inflation. The Federal Reserve left the benchmark U.S. rate at 2 percent on June 25. On Sept. 18 the Fed began cutting rates to bolster an economy already reeling from the credit crisis.
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