It will take a minimum of three years for Iraq's oil industry to reach a point where it can seriously affect world prices for hydrocarbons, Gennady Shmal declared at a press conference here Thursday. Shmal is president of the Union of Oil and Gas Industrialists and chairman of the board of Rosneftegazstroi. He said this is a very difficult time for predicting oil prices. 'A great many political and economic factors are affecting these prices,' Shmal said, adding: 'I think oil prices are going to fluctuate in the USD 25-27 per barrel range for some time.'
He noted that China's strong economic growth has been a major factor in high oil prices. 'China itself produces on the order of 180 million tonnes of oil a year, far from what it needs. So China has had to go into the world market for a great deal of oil, and this has had big effects on oil prices,' Shmal said.