UPDATED: 11:50 a.m. EDT — Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Saturday cast doubt on the prospects for Sunday’s oil summit in Doha, Qatar, saying Riyadh could boost output immediately and double it long-term, Bloomberg reported.
The prince, who is second in line to the throne and a top oil official, said his country would not cut back output unless other major producers agreed to do so.
“If all major producers don’t freeze production, we will not freeze production,” he said. “If we don’t freeze, then we will sell at any opportunity we get.
“If prices went up to $60 or $70, that would be a strong factor to push forward the wheel of development. But this battle is not my battle. It’s the battle of others who are suffering from low oil prices.”
An Iranian oil ministry official said Saturday the Islamic Republic will not attend Sunday’s planned oil producers’ summit in Doha, Qatar, undermining efforts to limit production and shore up crude oil prices.
Oil prices hit a 10-year low in February but have bounced 50 percent since then, closing at $40.40 Friday on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Tehran has refused to support production limits on its output but earlier had said it would send a representative to the meeting. OPEC had hoped the summit would produce an accord limiting production to clear an oil glut that has sent prices crashing from more than $100 a barrel.
The Doha meeting comes after an agreement to freeze production at January levels was reached among Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Venezuela and Russia. It had been hoped the summit would extend the agreement to other major producers, Reuters reported.
Iran has said that although it supports a freeze in theory, it will not participate until its market share reaches pre-sanctions levels. Those sanctions were lifted in January following Iran’s agreement to limit its nuclear program.
Iranian production has surpassed 3.5 million barrels a day, and exports are expected to reach 2 million barrels a day next month, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported Saturday.
The Wall Street Journal reported U.S. energy producers are worried prices have yet to hit bottom.
“I’d like to think it’s only up from here, but we haven’t seen the fundamental support for that thesis,” said Thomas Jorden, chief executive of Cimarex Energy Co., one of the largest producers attending an industry conference in New York this week.
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission has chalked up the recent rise in oil prices, which is similar to a rally that fizzled in March 2015, to money managers' closing out wagers on falling prices.
Oil stockpiles swelled by 6.6 million barrels in the latest U.S. Energy Information Agency report.