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OPEC is not the enemy of the U.S., UAE energy minister says

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01/12/2019 | 07:11am EDT
UAE's Oil Minister OPEC President Al Mazrouei addresses a news conference after an OPEC meeting in Vienna

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Oil producer group OPEC is not the enemy of the United States, United Arab Emirates Energy Minister Suhail al-Mazrouei said on Saturday in Abu Dhabi.

"We are complementing each other, we are not enemies here," Mazrouei told an industry conference in Abu Dhabi, addressing the relationship between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and the U.S., a major oil consuming country.

OPEC and other leading global oil producers led by Russia agreed in December to cut their combined oil output by 1.2 million barrels per day from January to prevent a supply glut and boost sagging prices.

The decision came despite U.S. President Donald Trump's call for the oil exporters' club to refrain from cutting production, saying it would trigger higher oil prices worldwide.

Mazrouei said the average oil price in 2018 was $70 a barrel. His Omani counterpart Mohammed al-Rumhi, addressing the same event, said he expected a price of between $60 and $80 a barrel in 2019.

The 1.2 million bpd cut should be enough to balance the market, Mazrouei said, expecting the correction to start this month and to be achieved in the first half of the year.

"We are assuming no changes in the cut that we have," he said.

Mazrouei also said he did not expect OPEC members Venezuela, Libya or Iran, who effectively have exemptions from the cuts, to increase their oil output in 2019, rather it was more likely their production would decline.

Both Mazrouei and Rumhi said there was no need for OPEC and its allies to meet before April when they are set to decide their output policy for the rest of 2019.

"Things are working well," said Rumhi, whose country is taking part in the supply reduction agreement but is not an OPEC member.

(Reporting by Rania El Gamal and Maha El Dahan; Writing by Maher Chmaytelli and Lisa Barrington; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

By Maha El Dahan and Rania El Gamal

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