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Gulf countries strengthen oil coordination

KUWAIT: Kuwait’s Deputy Foreign Minister said countries in the Gulf have strengthened coordination to provide oil to global markets amid increased regional tensions. “It is normal amid this escalation that Kuwait and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries take these steps,” Khalid Al-Jarallah told reporters late Sunday on the sidelines of a Ramadan sit-down organized by the Iraqi embassy.

“There is cooperation and coordination between Kuwait and the Gulf countries to provide guarantees for oil tankers and continuous supply of energy to global markets.” Jarallah’s comments come days after sabotage attacks against tankers in highly sensitive Gulf waters and the bombing of a Saudi pipeline – the latter claimed by Iran-aligned Yemeni rebels. Both attacks targeted routes built as alternatives to the Strait of Hormuz, the conduit for almost all Gulf exports.

The US Fifth Fleet headquartered in Bahrain said the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council began “enhanced security patrols” Saturday in international waters, in “tight coordination with the US navy”. Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the strait in case of war with the United States, which earlier this month announced it was sending an aircraft carrier and strike group to the region. Kuwait’s deputy foreign minister said “tension was escalating quickly” but he remained hopeful.

He added Kuwait was in “constant contact” with its ally, the US. On Saturday, OPEC giant Saudi Arabia called for urgent meetings of the GCC and the Arab League to discuss recent “aggressions and their consequences” in the region. The two summits are scheduled to be held in Makkah on May 30. Jarallah welcomed the kingdom’s invitation, saying Kuwait was keen to take part in discussions on issues “potentially dangerous” to the region.

Oil supplies were sufficient and stockpiles were still rising despite massive output drops from Iran and Venezuela, said OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia and key producer UAE on Sunday, as oil exporters met in Jeddah. Producer nations discussed how to stabilize a volatile oil market amid rising US-Iran tensions in the Gulf, which threaten to disrupt global supply.

But “we see that (oil) inventories are rising and supplies are plenty,” Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih told reporters at the start the meeting. “None of us want to see the (oil) stocks swell again,” he added, with reference to a supply surplus that sent prices sharply lower in the second half of last year. “We have to be cautious,” Falih said. The UAE’s energy minister said there was no need to relax a deal by the OPEC+ group of oil exporting countries to cut
output by 1.2 million barrels per day to support prices.- AFP

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