Perceptions keep prices high, OPEC says

April 13, 2012 at 8:47 AM
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VIENNA, April 13 (UPI) -- There are no physical disruptions in the oil markets, only perceived shortages, meaning markets are well-supplied, OPEC said in its monthly report.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Counties said oil prices were roughly 4.7 percent higher in March than they were the previous month. This "was supported by supply glitches in the North Sea and East Africa, improving economic data from the U.S. and China and persistent geopolitical factors, which were further amplified by speculative activities," OPEC said.

OPEC said crude oil inventories were higher than they were a year ago. Demand for oil from members of the cartel is expected to average around 30 million barrels per day, unchanged from OPEC's last report.

The forecast for global oil demand, however, was revised downward to 900,000 bpd per day. The slowing pace of oil demand, the cartel said, provided further evidence that markets are well-supplied.

Oil prices have been volatile in part because of tensions with Iran. The International Energy Agency, in its monthly report, said there was a potential for the loss of around 1 million bpd of Iranian crude because of sanctions.

OPEC said existing high prices can't be justified by anything other than geopolitical factors. It's a "perceived shortage of oil" rather than actual evidence that is keeping oil prices high, the cartel said.

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