Saudi oil minister Khalid al-Falih on Sunday said that the current cycle of falling crude prices is close to an end as market fundamentals improve.
Oil prices are currently hovering at around USD 50 per barrel after hitting a 10-year low of less than USD 30 in January, down from a peak of more than USD 100 in mid-2014.
“The current down cycle is nearing an end,” Falih told a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart Alexander Novak after a Gulf ministerial meeting in Riyadh.
“Market fundamentals, in terms of supply and demand, have begun to improve,” Falih said, adding, “We are optimistic that oil prices will continue to improve in the future.”
Qatar’s energy minister, Mohammed al-Sada, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the OPEC oil exporting cartel, also said the “difficult phase is over”.
“Although the market is heading to being balanced, it needs our joint effort, and we all agreed that we need to take measures to bring back this balance,” he said.
Novak said he and his Gulf counterparts had discussed ways to “develop the best mechanism to solve the issue of stabilisation”.
We have reached an unprecedented level in our relations and cooperation” with Saudi Arabia, he told reporters, adding that he agreed with Falih “to continue to work and remain in continuous contact to achieve… concrete mechanisms”.
OPEC has invited Russia and key non-members to a meeting later this month as the cartel and Moscow seek to tighten cooperation to boost historically low crude prices.
The invitation was announced after a meeting between top OPEC energy ministers and Novak in Istanbul, aimed at advancing joint efforts to bolster oil prices whose lows have hurt the highly dependent economies of crude producers.
The cartel and Russia will meet on Monday, ahead of the OPEC technical meeting in Vienna on October 28-29, to which Russia and others have been invited.
Last month at a meeting in Algiers, the cartel agreed its first production cut in eight years, although it remains to be seen how this will be complied with and implemented.
President Nicolas Maduro of OPEC member Venezuela was in Riyadh Sunday for talks a day after calling in Iran for increased cooperation between oil-rich nations to stabilise prices.
Maduro, who is also due to visit Qatar on a Middle East tour, currently faces an economic and political crisis at home, compounded by the collapsing price of oil.