On the day that crude touched new records above $143 a barrel, the heads of some of the world’s biggest oil companies have rejected claims that speculators are driving up prices. At an industry gathering in Madrid, the World Petroleum Congress, they instead blamed the fact that new supplies are not matching demand.
Repsol’s chief executive, Antonio Brufau, said: “Even if the supply and demand situation remains under pressure, there’s not a real problem right now with oil production. I don’t believe we’re going to see it at $200 a barrel.”
As the World Petroleum Congress continued, dozens of demonstrators angry at the industry invaded the Madrid stock exchange shouting: “No more blood for oil.”
On the production front, Iraq, hoping to boost its output, has opened its giant oilfields to foreign firms. That clears the way for major investment by multinationals.
Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani said: “Through these initial offers, we hope to increase production of these oilfields to about 1.5 million barrels per day, that’s in addition to current production which is 2.5 million barrels per day.
Iraq needs the oil majors’ cash and technical know-how to restore its antiquated infrastructure which has been hard hit by sanctions and war. Iraq’s proven reserves, at 115 billion barrels are the world’s largest after Saudi Arabia and Iran.