Oil prices down on Saudi assurance

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Mar 20 2012 01:12 PM | Updated as of Mar 20 2012 09:12 PM

Singapore - Oil prices inched lower in Asian trade Tuesday after the world's leading crude producer Saudi Arabia vowed to help stabilise prices.

New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in April, shed 53 cents to $107.56 per barrel while Brent North Sea crude for May settlement was down 34 cents at $125.37.

According to a report on the English daily Arab News, the Saudi cabinet on Monday released a statement vowing to "ensure adequate oil supply, stabilise (the) oil market and bring down oil prices to reasonable levels to both producers, consumers, and the petroleum industry".

The cabinet made the statement after reviewing the results of last week's international Energy Forum in Kuwait, the Saudi-based newspaper said.

Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi last week said the kingdom stood ready to cover any shortfalls of crude supplies in the market, blaming speculation as the main cause for the price volatility.

The assurances from Saudi Arabia come as the international community ramps up sanctions on Iran -- the world's fourth largest oil producer -- in an effort to make it halt its nuclear activities, which they fear include research on developing atomic weapons.

The International Energy Agency has previously said that it expects exports from Iran to fall by about 800,000 barrels per day to one million barrels in the second half of this year.

Energy-hungry nations in Asia have voiced concerns over the availability of alternative sources to replace Iranian imports cut off by sanctions.