OPEC+ Urged to Relieve ‘Artificial Tightness’ in Oil Market

(Bloomberg) -- The International Energy Agency accused Saudi Arabia, Russia and other major energy producers of creating “artificial tightness” in global oil and gas markets, urging the OPEC+ cartel to accelerate the return of supplies.

“Today’s prices for key fuels are well in the danger zone for most of the developing economies,” IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said Wednesday at a press briefing. He urged OPEC and its partners to “take this situation into account and make the necessary steps in order to comfort the global oil market and help to bring prices down to reasonable levels.”

OPEC+’s refusal to tame soaring energy costs by increasing supplies more quickly prompted America and its allies to announce a release of more than 50 million barrels from strategic reserves on Tuesday. Crude prices have surged by more than 50% this year as the global economy emerges from the pandemic.

Asked why the IEA -- which typically co-ordinates the release of emergency oil stocks -- wasn’t involved in the latest intervention, Birol said that the agency only takes such steps when markets face a major supply disruption.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies will meet next week to discuss production policy. At their last gathering earlier this month they snubbed a U.S. request for a large output increase and instead raised supply by just 400,000 barrels a day for December.

(Updates with further comments from Birol starting in second paragraph.)

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