DOHA: Qatar's energy minister yesterday said he would not rule out a jump in oil prices to $200 a barrel before the end of the year, echoing remarks by Opec president Chakib Khelil.
"Everything is possible ... depending on economic circumstances and the situation of the tumbling dollar," Abdullah bin Hamad Al Attiyah said.
"Oil is currently under the influence of many factors even though there is no shortage of supplies ... Prices may or may not go up to $200" by year's end, said Al Attiyah, whose country is an Opec member.
Khelil, who is also Algeria's Energy Minister, said in remarks published on Monday that he would not rule out oil reaching $200 a barrel if the US dollar continues to slide.
"The price of a barrel has become linked to the rise or decline of the dollar," he was quoted as saying by an Algerian daily.
"A one-per cent depreciation of the dollar leads to a $4 increase per barrel," he said.
Conversely, "if the dollar strengthens by 10pc, it is a safe bet that the price of a barrel will fall by $40," Khelil added.
Oil prices pulled back on Tuesday from recent highs close to $120 as British refinery workers returned to work after a two-day strike which hit fuel supplies, analysts said.
New York's main oil futures contract, light sweet crude for June delivery, slid 90 cents to $117.83 per barrel, after a record high $119.93 on Monday.
London's Brent North Sea crude for June sank $1 to $115.74 yesterday. The contract had hit an all-time peak of $117.56 on Friday.
l US President George W Bush said he would not draw down the US strategic oil reserve, saying the action would not affect prices.
"If I thought it would affect the price of oil positively, I would seriously consider it, but when you are talking about one-tenth of one percent of global demand, in the cost-benefit analysis, you do not get any benefits and I think it costs you oil in the case of a national security risk," Bush said.
"I don't think that's going to affect price when you affect 0.1pc," Bush said.
"And I do believe it is in our national interest to get the (reserve) filled, in case there is a major disruption of crude oil around the world."
The Strategic Petroleum Reserve, created in 1974, keeps hundreds of millions barrels of oil stored in underground salt caverns on the Texas and Louisiana coasts.