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Sun 29 May 2011 09:22 AM

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Alwaleed says Saudi Arabia seeks $70-80 a barrel oil price

Speculative buying, unrest in Libya and Bahrain driving oil prices, Saudi billionaire says

Alwaleed says Saudi Arabia seeks $70-80 a barrel oil price
PRINCE ALWALEED: Alwaleed owns Citigroup Inc shares and ranks 26th on Forbes magazine’s list of the world’s richest billionaires

Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal said an oil price of $70 to $80 a barrel is in the best interests of Saudi Arabia because it diminishes the urgency in the US and Europe to develop alternative energy sources.

“We don’t want the West to go and find alternatives,” Alwaleed, a nephew of Saudi King Abdullah, said in an interview on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” scheduled for broadcast on Sunday. “The higher the price of oil goes, the more they have incentives to go and find alternatives.”

The rebellion in Libya, political turmoil in Bahrain and speculative buying are responsible for driving oil prices to more than $100 a barrel, Alwaleed said. Crude for July delivery rose 36 cents to settle at $100.59 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange May 27. Prices have increased 35 percent in the past year.

Alwaleed, who owns Citigroup Inc shares and ranks 26th on Forbes magazine’s list of the world’s richest billionaires with a net worth of $19.6bn, said he continues to invest in the US and that the nation is “down, for sure, but it is not out.” Standard & Poor’s lowered its US credit-rating outlook on April 18 to negative, citing the widening budget deficit.

Saudi Arabia needs to enact laws that allow for greater public participation in government, Alwaleed said. US President Barack Obama’s administration is seeking to encourage pro-democracy movements inspired by those that ousted longtime leaders in Tunisia and Egypt as part of the so-called Arab Spring to create broader, regional changes.

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