Opec’s Secretary General said more balance was needed between the amount of oil traded in the physical markets and the “paper” markets, which the group has often blamed for causing price swings.

“The paper market should be a reasonable percentage of the physical market, of the real barrels,” Abdullah Badri said at the Reuters Global Energy Summit.

Badri said in June 2007, there was the equivalent of 3 billion barrels of oil being traded in paper markets, when 67 million barrels a day were traded in the physical oil markets.

He said it was not acceptable to have this imbalance.

“People use it (the paper markets) as an instrument,” he said in a Reuters report.

Speculators in the oil paper and futures markets were blamed for helping to drive oil prices last year to a record above $147 per barrel.

This prompted calls from US politicians for tighter regulation of oil futures traded on exchanges and paper markets, where derivative products based on oil are traded over-the-counter.

Opec has previously said there was a need to control speculation and Badri reiterated there was a need for standards.

He said it was the responsibility of the big consumers, led by the United States, to enforce them.

Pressure for greater regulation has intensified after the credit crisis was triggered by risky credit derivatives.

Oil prices have more than doubled since December, partly reflecting expectations that the world economy is beginning to recover and that oil demand will pick up.

Badri said the speculators were back, but not at an alarming rate.

“We have no argument that they are there because they are part of the system,” he said. “But not to the point where they manipulate the market.”

(Upstream Online)