OPEC oil ministers came together here on Thursday for their 166th meeting as world oil prices have been dipping uncontrollably.
During their one-day meeting, they are expected to mainly discuss a working paper presented by the OPEC on oil supply and demand forecasts for the first half of next year, member states' abidance by output ceilings and future oil market outlooks.
OPEC ministers confirmed that they are keen to maintain balance in the global oil market by means of taking practical steps to protect member states' interests.
However, the cartel is still divided over serious measures to stop the current drop in oil prices since its three-year ceiling is still 30 million barrels per day, which amount to roughly one third of global crude oil production.
In a keynote speech at the gathering, Abdourhman Ataher Al-Ahirish, Libya's Vice Prime Minister for Corporations and President of the OPEC Conference said it has now been a little more than five months since the Conference last convened here in Vienna to discuss the oil market situation. "At that time, we spoke of improving stability in the oil market resulting from the ongoing recovery of the world economy," he said.
Since then, the global economic recovery has continued, although at lower levels, while the global oil market has seen ample supplies, he added.
Given this backdrop and even though some uncertainties remain, global economic growth in 2015 is expected to grow to 3.6 percent from 3.2 percent in the current year, he said, adding that in line with this economic outlook, world oil demand in 2015 is forecast to grow by around 1.1 million barrels per day, with total world consumption at around 92.3 million barrels per day.
"The bulk of this net oil demand growth will continue to come from non-OECD countries," Al-Ahirish said.
Non-OPEC oil supply is also anticipated to rise next year by 1.4 million barrels per day to average 57.3 million barrels per day. The region of "OECD Americas" is expected to be the main non-OPEC contributor to this supply growth supported by some increases in Brazil.
In terms of prices, the situation has changed in recent months. Although the OPEC Reference Basket had been fairly stable during the last three and a half years, with the annual average ranging between roughly USD 105 and USD 110 per barrel since mid-June, the Basket has lost nearly 30 percent of its value or more than USD 30 per barrel, he noted.
Ample supply, moderate demand, a stronger US dollar and uncertainties about global economic growth have been key factors in this recent price trend. In addition, as OPEC has noted in the past, the impact of speculative activity in the oil market has also been an important factor, the OPEC conference president added.
Nevertheless, it is important to recognize that if the recent price trend continues, the long-term sustainability of capacity expansion plans and investment projects may be put at risk, he suggested.
Al-Ahirish concluded by reiterating that such opportunities for dialogue and collaboration with oil companies, non-OPEC producers, investors and consumers make important contribution to the common endeavor of attaining stability in the oil market.