June 3, 2008 / 4:37 PM / 10 years ago

Oil price not speculative, to stay high: Total

LONDON (Reuters) - Oil prices, which have hit record levels, are not driven by speculation and will stay high, pushed upwards by sustained demand, the head of Total’s (TOTF.PA) exploration and production business said on Tuesday.

“We would anticipate very robust prices,” Yves-Louis Darricarrere told the Reuters Global Energy Summit.

U.S. crude in May hit a record of $135.09 a barrel and was close to $126 a barrel on Tuesday.

“I don’t share the view that the price is resulting from speculation,” Darricarrere said further.

“I have many reasons. What we have is clearly demand which is still sustained and which has been very much sustained.”

Other factors included the lack of spare production capacity and political unrest in oil-producing countries.

Demand is faltering in developed countries, where growth is slowing after several years of economic strength, but any slowdown there would be offset by rising consumption in China, India, the Middle East and “hopefully Africa as well”.

He said that if 10 million extra people in Asia bought a car, even if it were a fuel-efficient Tata car, that would add up to substantial demand.

“All these countries have the right to develop. All that will certainly continue to increase demand,” he said.

Reporting by Barbara Lewis

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