World oil prices have fallen too far, the president of state-owned energy giant Saudi Aramco said on Tuesday, insisting that market forces, not deliberate production cuts, must take their course.
“It’s too low for everybody,” Khalid al-Falih told a conference.
“I think even consumers start to suffer in the long term.”
Falih also said American shale oil production is important for the world’s long-term energy future and Saudi Aramco has marked an additional $7 billion for its own shale projects.
Saudi Aramco is the world’s largest oil company in terms of crude production and exports.
The kingdom is the world’s leading oil exporter and the top producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
In November the cartel decided to maintain its output ceiling at 30 million barrels per day, deepening the global price drop which began in June.
Oil was then trading at more than $100 a barrel but on Tuesday international benchmark Brent crude for March delivery was fetching just $48.28 in Asian trade.
Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi has been quoted as saying it is unfair to expect the cartel to reduce output if non-members, who account for most of the world’s crude production, do not.