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Oil Prices Dragged Down by Euro Crisis, Attiyah Says

The European debt crisis, which has triggered an 18 percent plunge in oil prices since May 3, is “very concerning” for the world economy, Qatar’s energy minister said.

“It’s becoming very concerning for the whole world, which is reflected psychologically on the oil market,” with prices plummeting more than $15 in 10 days, Abdullah al-Attiyah told reporters today in Manama, Bahrain. “So far we are still waiting to see what Europe will do, what is the euro’s future now if there is a lot of uncertainty.”

Crude oil yesterday tumbled to a three-month low in New York on concern that Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis will reduce global economic growth and fuel consumption.

Crude oil for June delivery fell $2.79 to $71.61 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest settlement since Feb. 5. Oil has dropped 18 percent on the Nymex since it reached $87.15 a barrel on May 3, a 19-month high, as the euro weakened against the dollar.

Oil priced below “$65 rings a bell for a meeting” of OPEC ministers before the next scheduled date of Oct. 14, Kuwaiti Minister Ahmad Al-Abdullah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah said May 8 in Doha.

On March 17, the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed to uphold existing output quotas for a fifth time since 2008. Members are exceeding those allocations by about 2 million barrels a day.

Supply and Demand

Attiyah said he didn’t believe that OPEC needs to have a special meeting now to discuss the declining price of crude.

“OPEC has nothing to do now, because it is not related to supply and demand,” he said. “We cannot control the psychology.”

The euro this week fell to its lowest level since the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. on concern that the 16-nation currency may be headed for disintegration.

The shared currency fell for a fourth week versus the dollar and a third week versus the yen, the longest losing streaks since February, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Europe is in a “very, very serious situation” despite a nearly $1 trillion rescue package for the region’s most indebted nations.

The European currency yesterday traded as low as $1.2354, breaching $1.25 for the first time since March 2009 and touching the lowest level since Oct. 28, 2008.

Portugal announced austerity measures May 13, a day after Spain proposed to reduce its deficit, spurring concern that fiscal tightening in the region will undermine economic growth and derail the global recovery.

Target Prices

Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said last month that prices in the $70-to-$80 range are “as close to perfect as possible” and he hoped oil would remain in that range. King Abdullah has targeted $75 oil as a fair price for consumers and producers.

Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries include the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Kuwait, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.

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