(CNBC) Oil ministers in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Monday rebuffed concerns from the International Monetary Fund that the global slump in oil prices will have a “deteriorating” effect on Middle East countries’ current account balances.
The price of crude oil has slumped from a high of $114 a barrel last June to currently trade just below the $50-mark but oil ministers in the Middle East, where many major oil producers are located, appear sanguine about the decline.
On Monday, Saudi’s vice oil minister said long-term oil market fundamentals remain robust but prolonged low prices could threaten security of supply and pave the way for a price spike.
Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said “for a major reserve holder, oil producer and exporter such as Saudi Arabia, our focus has always been on the long-term trends shaping the oil market,” in a speech at an Asian energy conference in the Qatari capital Doha, reported by Reuters.
“Rather than being a commodity in decline, as some would like to portray, supply and demand patterns indicate that the long-term fundamentals of the oil complex remain robust,” he added.
Separately, the UAE’s energy minister said that global oil prices would start an upward correction in 2016 as the markets began to rebalance, Reuters reported.
The oil ministers’ comments come after Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), warned Gulf countries that they need to improve their public finances amid the slump in the oil price.