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Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister Slams Forecasters For Politicizing Data

Politicizing statistics and forecasts and using them to discredit OPEC and the OPEC+ group’s oil production decisions sows confusion on the market and leads to unnecessary volatility, Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman has said.

In an interview with the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), the minister gave an example with the forecast from early in the Russian invasion of Ukraine that the shunning of Russian oil would result in massive losses in supply of around 3 million barrels per day (bpd).  

That was the forecast from the International Energy Agency (IEA), which said in the early weeks of the war in Ukraine that the market was facing imminent supply losses of 3 million bpd. In its Oil Market Report for April, the IEA said that Russian oil supply was expected to fall by 1.5 million bpd in April, with shut-ins projected to accelerate to around 3 million bpd from May.

“At that time, many accused OPEC+ of being behind the curve and not responding to a crisis in a timely manner. But these projected losses did not materialise,” the Saudi minister told SPA.

Forecasters other than OPEC also heavily criticized the OPEC+ decision to cut the production target by 2 million bpd from November.

“Again, in retrospect, the OPEC+ decision turned out to be the right one for supporting the stability of the market and the industry,” Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said.

“The problem with politicizing statistics and forecasting and using them to discredit OPEC+ and its stabilizing role, is that it agitates consumers and creates confusion in the market and gives rise to anomalies and misguided interpretations, all of which contribute to unnecessary volatility,” the minister told the Saudi agency.

“At the end of the day, playing politics with statistics and forecasting and not maintaining objectivity often tend to backfire and result in loss of credibility,” he said.  

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By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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