June 16, 2009 / 8:01 PM / 11 years ago

Conoco CEO: oil prices ahead of fundamentals

DETROIT (Reuters) - The chairman and chief executive of ConocoPhillips (COP.N) said on Tuesday that oil prices had risen faster than the company expected and were now trading ahead of underlying fundamentals.

Speaking on the sidelines of the National Summit, James Mulva said those prices — U.S. crude fetched $70.47 on Tuesday — were good news “with respect to financial returns” and ConocoPhillips’ ability to invest in new equipment and projects.

“We have felt that an oil price between $70 and $80 (a barrel) is a good balance to promote investment, continue to replace reserves and keep production up, as well as a balance with respect to the cost to the consumer,” he told Reuters.

But Mulva also acknowledged the price run-up — expectations of a recovery drove crude prices to $73 a barrel last week, more than double their winter lows — was “stronger than we would have expected” and was “a little bit ahead of the actual supply and demand situation and inventory levels.”

Reporting by James Kelleher, editing by Matthew Lewis

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