Oil demand seen by Saudis improving with prices stabilizing

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(Feb 12): Crude demand is improving amid signs prices are stabilizing, the state-run Saudi Press Agency reported, citing Saudi Arabia’s Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi.

Al-Naimi discussed a “relative improvement in the market” with Algeria’s Minister of Justice Al-Tayeb Louh at a meeting in Riyadh on Wednesday, the Saudi Press Agency reported. Increased demand, stability of prices and the importance of cooperation among oil producers were mentioned, according to the report. Algeria and Saudi Arabia are members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Oil demand growth will accelerate to 1 percent this year from 0.7 percent last year, partly on faster economic growth, the Paris-based International Energy Agency said on Tuesday. Brent crude slumped 48 percent last year as increased production from the U.S. to Russia and stagnating economic growth helped global output to exceed demand.

Iraq, Kuwait and Iran joined Saudi Arabia this month in lowering their crude prices for Asia, signaling OPEC is seeking to defend market share rather than support prices. Brent crude, the benchmark for pricing more than half of the world’s oil, climbed the past two weeks on signs U.S. drillers were cutting.

Brent futures for March delivery climbed 0.7 percent to $55.04 a barrel by 8:16 a.m. in Dubai.

Global economic growth will boost demand, al-Naimi said at a conference in Abu Dhabi in December. Economic growth will accelerate to 3.5 percent this year from 3.3 percent last year, the International Monetary Fund forecast on Jan. 19.

Al-Naimi also discussed cooperation among oil producers from OPEC and from outside the group with Gazprom Chairman and presidential envoy Viktor Zubkov, according to the Saudi Press Agency. Al-Naimi has said producers outside of OPEC should trim their output first.