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Oil back near $100 by 2010-2015: IEA economist

  Oil prices may rebound to around $100 per barrel between 2010 and 2015, International Energy Agency Chief Economist Fatih Birol predicted on Monday.

Birol told an energy conference that he saw downward pressure on oil prices in 2009 but said he expected prices to move up again in 2010 with a recovery in the world economy. Oil is on track for a nearly 60% loss this year, the biggest annual fall since futures began trading 25 years ago.

Oil prices rose above $40 a barrel on Monday, up nearly 8% on the previous session, after violence between Israel and Hamas served as a reminder of tensions that could threaten crude supplies from the Middle East.

Energy investments have taken a hit around the world from the global economic crisis, Birol said.

“The projects aimed to develop oil fields are being postponed. This poses a great risk. Demand will pick up when the world economy starts recovering,” he said. „Because oil supply will be limited due to today’s postponed investments, a serious supply-demand problem will emerge in 2010,” Birol said.

He expects to see a transition from an energy market dominated by multinational oil companies to a market ruled by national companies, he said. Birol said that 80% of the increase in oil and gas production by 2030 would stem from national companies. “For that reason, we may see oil and gas prices zig-zaging more in the future,” he said. (Reuters)