The chief of Malaysia's national oil company Petronas said Monday that global oil prices are too high and should fall back to between $75 and $80 a barrel.
While demand has surged, Petronas Chief Executive Shamsul Azhar Abbas said there was no real evidence of an oil shortage and that current prices above $100 a barrel appeared largely linked to speculation in crude markets.
"Given the current state of market fundamentals and the cost environment, I believe prices should remain within the range of $75 to $80 per barrel," Shamsul told a two-day Asian oil and gas conference.
Oil prices soared from about $70 a barrel last summer to as high as $115 this spring, and currently are hovering above $100. They were driven up by turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa, rising demand in developing countries and a weakening U.S. dollar.
The 12-member Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which accounts for about 40 percent of the global crude supply, will discuss Wednesday whether to boost production to help lower prices.
Shamsul said a major long-term challenge would be to meet growing oil demand amid dwindling resources, and that companies would be relying on smaller fields and offshore fields to sustain production.
Meanwhile, Asia's oil demand has been projected to increase by two-thirds within the next 20 years. At this rate, Asia will have consumed more than 250 billion barrels of oil by then _ more than six times its current reserves of about 40 billion barrels, he said.
"There is truly no mistaking that Asia's dependence on energy imports and investments into other resource-rice regions will grow," he said.