After the Oil Meeting: Calm Market Ahead?

Sunday's Jeddah Energy Meeting was meant to stabilize the oil markets, giving much-needed relief to countries and consumers suffering from record high prices. In the wake of price jumps that have chilled the global economy, including a record one-day jump of nearly $11, Saudi Arabia convened the meeting and called for calm.

The thirty-six countries represented at the meeting -- both oil producers and consumers -- left Jeddah without a clear picture for what's behind the surge in oil prices. By Tuesday the lack of any bold actions or short term answers didn't keep the price from rising higher.

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"Given that the Saudis didn't tell the market anything it did not already know, we fear the path to $150 has been opened up," said Stephen Schork in the Schork Report, an oil industry publication.

The summit also highlighted one of the biggest divides between oil producers and their customers. The US and other consumer countries insist the problem comes from market fundamentals – an imbalance of supply and demand.

Producing countries like Saudi Arabia, whose oil fields will soon be pumping at a 30 year high, insist the world's markets have enough oil. As evidence Nasser Amin, a Senior Vice President of state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco, told ABC News there were no orders for oil that had not been met.

"We are telling our customers we are going to give them whatever they need this year and next year," Ibrahim Al Muhanna at the Saudi Ministry of Petroleum told ABC News.

Oil consumers like the United States and Europe want to see more oil on the market, hoping that will ease price pressure. But producers like OPEC, which represents 40% of the world's supply, say output isn't the issue. They point to factors like the weak US dollar, political instability in Nigeria and the Middle East, and investors moving money into commodities markets.

"All those factors have had an impact…that's why it's hard to see any concrete outcome from one day of discussion," said Al Kadiri of PFC Energy.

Saudi Arabia did confirm it would increase output by 200,000. But the world's largest exporter, nicknamed the world's "Central Bank of Oil," had hinted at the increase last week, blunting the impact of Sunday's announcement.

Saudi's increase in output was eclipsed by the loss of more than 500,000 barrels a day from Nigeria. Production was disruption after last week's rebel attacks on an offshore oil facility in the Niger Delta. By Monday the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger-Delta, group behind the attacks, declared a cease fire. Some experts estimate that the country could be producing

"This one of the problems the oil market faces at the moment, that it isn't purely a supply-demand movement of prices…you also have geopolitical pressures that have consistently that have raised the threat of effecting physical supplies," said Raad Al Kadiri, an analyst with PFC Energy.

The price of oil has more than doubled this year, bringing down businesses and making it harder for households to cover the expenses of day-to-day life. The conference delegates, drawn from 36 countries and 22 oil companies, agreed there was no quick or easy fix for high prices.

Speaking at the meeting's open Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, the kingdom's head of state, aimed his ire at the "selfish, narrow interests" of speculators. Other producers

But US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman downplayed speculator impact in a press briefing in Jeddah.

"There is no evidence that we can find that speculators are driving futures prices…our view is this capital is following the market upward, it is not leading that movement," said Bodman.

The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission and a special federal task force have announced plans to study the role of investors in this year's run up in oil prices.

While the US differed with other delegations on the role of speculators and the primacy of supply and demand, there were points of agreement on other issues. They emphasized investment in future production, ongoing producer-consumer dialogue, better energy conservation and commitment to renewable sources.

OPEC President Chekib Khelil questioned that commitment on the part of the United States.

"Why is it in the US the penetration of renewable energies is less than in the EU? $4.00 a gallon [in the US] compared to what the Europeans pay is very cheap," said Khelil.

"How do you introduce conservation with that price? You can't."

In many oil producing countries consumers pay far less that the rest of the world, thanks to government subsidies. With the booming revenues they make from record high prices those economies are booming; Saudi Arabia alone makes an estimated $1 billion dollars a day.

But while they hardly feel consumers' pain, producers say they are still concerned about rising oil prices, recognizing that the ensuing global panic could hurt their interests. Too demand destruction, either from conservation or moving away from fossil fuels, would cut away at their oil revenues.

"Selling oil is what keeps them afloat. While they benefit from [high prices], if it hits the consumer too much they're risking their own futures," said Al Kadiri.

Al Muhanna, the oil ministry official, said Saudi wants to maintain a stable oil market.

"We are planning to increase our production capacity and to coordinate with other countries in terms of other policies including as well refining capacity."

Investment in production capacity is among the meeting's stated long term solutions to high prices. On Monday ABC News toured an old field currently being developed but Saudi Aramco, the country's sole producer. The Khurais complex is set to pump 1.2 million barrels a day of Arabian light crude starting in June 2009.

With little short term relief in sight, the conference delegates and the world powers they represent are looking for medium and long term answers. It will take patience and economic resilience for the global economy to make it through the storm.

ABC News' Dan Arnall conrtibuted to this report.