ABU DHABI—Discontent with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries spilled into the open Monday, when Oman’s oil minister called current oil production levels “irresponsible” and blamed the group for low oil prices.
“This is a commodity that if you have one million barrels a day extra in the market, you just destroy the market,” said Mohammed Bin Hamad Al Rumhy, whose country produces oil but isn’t a member of OPEC. “We are hurting, we are feeling the pain and we’re taking it like a God-driven crisis. Sorry I don’t buy this, I think we’ve created it ourselves.”
Rumhy’s comments came at a conference in Abu Dhabi as he shared a stage with Suhail al Mazrouei, the United Arab Emirate’s top oil official, who is a top advocate of the producer group’s strategy. The remarks also reflect the pressure on OPEC from less wealthy members like Venezuela and Algeria to intervene with production cuts to raise prices, as crude oil CLZ5, -0.07% trades for less than $50 a barrel—down from more than $100 a barrel in 2014.
Mazrouei defended OPEC’s stance, arguing that production cuts would simply subsidize higher-cost producers in the U.S. and elsewhere. Oil in the U.A.E., Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern producers is fairly cheap to produce.
Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s deputy oil minister, rejected the idea that the current period of low prices represents a fundamental lasting shift. Without naming the U.S., Prince Abdulaziz essentially rejected a commonly held theory in the oil industry that production cuts from high-cost producers will “quickly reverse when oil prices start rising again.”
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