By Jonathan Davies

The huge falls in oil prices seen in the second half of 2014 are not the fault of Opec (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries), Gulf Ministers have stressed.

Analysts and commentators have widely blamed Opec's decision not to cut oil production as the reason for the fall in prices. The overriding reason is too much supply for not enough demand.

Saudi Arabia's Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said "the spread of misleading information and speculation" had resulted in around 40% of the price drop.

Prices have rebounded slightly recently. Brent crude hit lows of $58 per barrel last week, but is trading at nearly $63.

Speaking in Abu Dhabi, Mr al-Naimi dismissed speculation that Saudi Arabia was deliberately driving down the price of oil to suit its own political needs and goals.

He also said that countries outside of Opec want to cut production, "they are welcome".

"We are not going to cut, certainly Saudi Arabia is not going to cut," he added.

Kuwait's Oil Minister, Ali al-Omair, said: "I don't think we need to cut. We gave a chance to others [and] they were not willing to do so."

Political agenda?

Saudi Arabia has previously taken action to rein in oil prices. So it's decision to continue as normal in this situation has prompted a number of analysts and commentators to wonder if all is not as it seems.

There are those who have argued that falling oil prices would undermine the rise of shale gas in the US, and cut the revenues earned by Russia and Iran.

Mr al-Naimi said: "Current prices do not encourage investment in any form of energy, but they stimulate global economic growth, leading ultimately to an increase in global demand and a slowdown in the growth of supplies."

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