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Riyadh defends oil market role

Jan. 15, 2013 at 8:49 AM

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- The kingdom of Saudi Arabia is committed to a stable oil market as economic growth gains momentum in 2013, an adviser to the Saudi oil minister said.

Ibrahim al-Muhanna, an adviser to Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi, fended off concerns that lower oil production in December was an attempt by Riyadh to influence oil prices.

In a statement to Bloomberg News, he said the kingdom was "strongly committed to a stable oil market."

Crude oil production from Saudi Arabia for December declined 4.9 percent to its lowest level in more than a year. Prices followed suit on economic concerns.

A November report from the International Energy Agency, meanwhile, said the exploitation of reserves like tar sands oil means North America may take a brief energy lead before the world turns back to OPEC supplies after 2020.

Economic problems in the United States and European Union kept demand levels suppressed last year. The spokesman added, however, that Riyadh was "optimistic that economic uncertainties will pass and growth will resume in 2013."

He added that it was the market, more than anything, that dictated the price of oil.

OPEC's next monthly report is due Wednesday.

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