Saudi Arabia accused of oil output increase

THE International Energy Agency (IEA) said yesterday that OPEC leader Saudi Arabia had stealthily boosted output to cool an oil price rally, while OPEC accused the agency of providing inconsistent oil price views.

Tensions between oil exporter group OPEC and the agency, representing industrialised consumers, have risen as Western countries put pressure on the Saudis and their allies, the only producing nations with spare capacity, to meet unexpectedly robust demand that has driven crude up near $100 a barrel.

“It appears Saudi Arabia has been making more crude available to the market in the past six months, judging by export data from independent tanker trackers,” the IEA, which advises 28 countries on energy policy, said.

On Monday the IEA said current oil prices were alarming. Yesterday OPEC’s secretary general, Abdullah al-Badri, produced an unusually harsh statement criticising the IEA for inconsistency in being willing to add to oil prices by imposing taxes, then asking OPEC to curb prices to safeguard the world economy.

“In 2009 when the oil price was lower, the IEA had advised its members that they needed to increase petroleum taxes,” he said.