Oil price surge not due to supply shortage: Qatar

DUBAI (Reuters) - Speculation on commodities markets caused the oil price surge last week, not any shortage supply shortage, the oil minister of OPEC member Qatar said.

Oil soared more than $16 a barrel -- over 13 percent -- in a two-day rally on Thursday and Friday on weakness in the U.S. dollar and rising tensions between Israel and Iran.

The volatility on oil prices in recent weeks, despite the fact there was no major rise in demand or fall in supply, was proof that speculation was moving the market, Abdullah al-Attiyah told Al Jazeera Television by telephone.

“The issue is not one of any supply crisis. There is no specter of a looming supply crisis,” Attiyah said. “There is no clear reason or change in the supply map.”

“We cannot do anything with what we don’t have. The issue is not one of supply shortage. We have not seen any queues at any gas stations in the world. We have not seen a build up of oil tankers at terminals.”

OPEC members on Sunday saw no need to pump more oil in response to last week’s double-digit price surge to over $139 a barrel.

Consuming governments facing domestic fuel protests have put pressure on OPEC, supplier of more than a third of the world’s oil, to boost output to ease the effect of high oil prices on their economies.

Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd urged G8 nations on Sunday to “apply the blow-torch” to OPEC to force producers to pump more.

OPEC has consistently blamed factors beyond its control, including speculation and international political tensions, for the prices rises.

Attiyah said there was growing awareness in Europe that high government taxes on fuel were also biting businesses and consumers.

Oil slipped almost $1 on Monday on profit-taking after last week’s jump.

Writing by Lin Noueihed; Editing by Lincoln Feast