IMF Chief Praises Gulf Effort On Oil Price Management

IMF chief Christine Lagarde praised Gulf oil exporters on Saturday for their help in stabilizing the global economy by managing oil prices, despite complaints by some Western countries that energy costs are still too high.

“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 …” the International Monetary Fund’s managing director 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.

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.

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.

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