OPEC head blames high oil prices on speculation

With the crude oil price still hovering above $100 per barrel, some of the world's largest producers of the crucial energy resource suggest that a key cause of these high prices is speculation within the financial markets, according to CNNMoney.

Speaking at a panel at the World Petroleum Congress, Abdulla Salem El Badri, the secretary general of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, suggested that the massive amount of oil being traded on the financial market unnecessarily pushes up prices of the commodity.

He suggested that more than 3 billion barrels per day of oil - roughly 35 times the actual daily production - are traded in financial exchanges both in spot markets and oil futures. Others suggest that the issue is not necessarily speculation, but heavy investment from some of the major players in the financial sector such as pension funds and investment banks.

Maria van der Hoeven, head of the International Energy Agency, contested this argument, suggesting declining supply is instead to blame.

Notably, however, Reuters reports that Saudi Arabia announced it has reached production levels unrivaled in more than three decades.

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