DUBAI (Reuters) – The weak dollar and the flow of investment money into commodities have pushed oil prices to a fresh record so more pumping from OPEC would have done little to stop the surge, a senior OPEC delegate said on Sunday.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) left its output steady at a meeting earlier this month despite calls from consuming countries for more oil to halt the record rally. The price hit a fresh peak of $111 a barrel on Thursday.
“What can you do?” the delegate told Reuters. “Prices are completely ignoring the fundamentals of supply and demand. Even if we had increased (at the meeting), I don’t think it would have changed anything. It is financial speculators, the weak dollar and funds driving the price.”
OPEC oil ministers have long insisted factors beyond their control are fuelling oil’s rally.
Crude futures have jumped about 15 percent this year in part due to a steep decline in the U.S. dollar, which has helped push up the nominal value of all commodities prices in the currency.
Crude and gasoline inventories in the world’s largest energy consumer the United States were rising, an indication that oil market fundamentals were not behind the price rise, the delegate said.
U.S. gasoline inventories hit their highest levels for 15 years last week, according to U.S. government data.
In its monthly report last week, OPEC said it was pumping more than enough crude to keep consumers satisfied and a potential U.S. recession could hit demand for its crude.
OPEC had no plans to call an emergency meeting to discuss output policy as ministers could confer if necessary on the sidelines of producer-consumer talks in Rome in April, the delegate said.
“I don’t know if they will, but they can meet there and make a decision if they need to,” he said.