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OPEC 'Not Affected' by U.S. Shale Oil, But UAE Weighing Gas Imports

The head of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said the cartel doesn't feel threatened by the United States producing ever-increasing volumes of shale oil, and one OPEC member said it was interested in possibly importing natural gas from North America.

According to reports, OPEC Secretary General Abdallah Salem el-Badri told attendees of the Chatham House Middle East and North Africa Energy Conference in London on Monday that U.S. shale oil production was not a threat to the cartel. Instead OPEC is preparing for the possibility of more production from three of its own members.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), said it was interested in possibly importing natural gas from North America.

"I welcome the tight oil of the United States. Demand will grow and this will not affect OPEC in any way," el-Badri said, according to Bloomberg. The Wall Street Journal said el-Badri added that he didn't believe the U.S. would stop importing oil altogether. "They still import from the Middle East, and the Middle East will be important for them [for supply]."

El-Badri said OPEC would be able to handle any increase in the global supply of oil, but the 12-member cartel is still planning to produce about 30 million b/d in 2014 (see Shale Daily, Dec. 5, 2013). Specifically, more production could be on the horizon from Iran if economic sanctions are lifted, and from Iraq and Libya if unrest in both countries ebbs.

Reuters said the UAE's energy minister, Suhail bin Mohammed Farad Faris Al Mazrouei, told the conference that his country could import gas from the United States and Canada, due to sharply rising gas demand and slow gas production in the UAE.

"We may follow the same trend of considering investments in the United States and Canada to bring some of that gas back home," Al Mazrouei said Monday, adding that his country "is seriously thinking about that right now...[but] any investment needs to go through the vetting of the board of directors, not to me as an energy minister."

OPEC acknowledged that growing U.S. shale oil production would displace imports from its member states in a report issued last July (see Shale Daily, July 12, 2013). Separate reports released earlier in 2013 by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and IHS Inc. arrived at the same conclusion (see Shale Daily, May 15, 2013; Jan. 25, 2013).

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