ABU DHABI (REUTERS) - Saudi Arabia's oil minister Ali al-Naimi said he was 100 per cent comfortable with the oil market, the Saudi-owned al-Hayat newspaper reported on Friday.
Naimi's remarks come ahead of an Opec meeting on Friday in which the organisation is widely expected to stick by its policy of unconstrained oil output for another six months.
Mr Naimi told the newspaper that markets were witnessing an increase in demand for oil and a slight improvement in global growth and that supply from outside of Opec member countries had declined.
Asked whether it was impossible to return to the US$100 per barrel price level, he told the newspaper, "I tell the world don't be preoccupied with prices as they are determined in the market and there are a lot of speculators and the market has several elements and prices change daily up and down."
Mr Naimi defended the decision taken at OPEC's last meeting in November not to cut production in the face of falling prices saying it was built on predictions that had proven true.
Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, had said at the time it would no longer cut production to keep oil prices high.
In answer to a question about whether the kingdom had increased the rate of its drilling lately, Mr Naimi said, "What is being said is not true, in reality the natural rate of decline in wells in Saudi is the lowest in the world between four and six per cent".