UAE Minister of Energy Suhail Al Mazroui Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: UAE Minister of Energy Suhail Al Mazroui defended Opec (Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) on Wednesday from US criticism and said the group always does the right thing in balancing oil markets.

Replying to a question on growing criticism from US president Donald Trump on Opec policies of controlling oil markets, he said Opec hears what the US says but does what it believes is necessary to balance oil markets.

“We are not playing with US president Trump or any another president. What we do is we hear them (US). They are major consumers. US is a major producing nation. We hear what they say but we will always do the right thing from our perspective, which is always trying to maintain the balance,” he said at the Gulf Intelligence energy forum in Abu Dhabi.

To another question on whether Opec can trust the US president, he added, “We are not in the business of trusting presidents or not trusting presidents. We are in the business of correcting the market every time geopolitics as a factor affects the market.”

Oil prices had been trading at over $80 a barrel in October of last years, when a number of oil producing countries increased production in anticipating of a shortage in oil markets due to US sanctions on Iran, but Trump granted waivers to eight countries allowing them to continue importing oil from the Islamic Republic. The overproduction lead to a glut in the market, which caused oil prices to fall to almost $50 by December. Efforts by Opec to reduce production have since raised prices to above $60.

Al Mazroui also said lower oil prices is not good for the US economy as producers will lose money.

“When the prices descended in the last two months, we’ve seen slowdown in the United States, and we’ve been talking to some producers and there is frustration on losing money. Investors will not be keen if the oil price is $40 or $45.”