An oil tanker being loaded at Saudi Aramco’s Ras Tanura oil refinery and terminal in Saudi Arabia. Image Credit: Reuters

Abu Dhabi: Oil prices are being led by the fallout from the US-China trade dispute rather than on traditional fundamentals of demand and supply, according to Opec secretary-general Sanusi Barkindo, speaking at the World Energy Congress in Abu Dhabi.

“The global economy itself is being driven by the trade disputes between the two trading powers. Yes, we see a slowdown in the global economy in some of the major centres of growth, but it is only a slowdown and that slowdown is not entirely being driven by manufacturing, by exports, by the labour market, but by what is being pumped in the press — that as a result of the trade dispute, the global economy cannot escape a deceleration at best, at worst a recession.”

Barkindo said he was optimistic that the US would avoid a recession with its economic data showing positive numbers. “I have listened to the US Fed chairman … and he said loud and clear there is no recession on the horizon. The numbers are looking good — 3.7 per cent unemployment rate is super.

“The US economy is doing very well and this is the engine of growth. Therefore, we are not yet convinced by the doomsayers that this significant deceleration will manifest into a recession. I remain strongly optimistic.”

Barkindo said that Opec was sticking to what he called conservative projections of demand rising above 1 million barrels per day for 2019 and slightly higher next year.