Merrill Lynch sees oil staying high in 2005

In a presentation to reporters in London, Batchelor laid out the supply and demand dynamics he believes will support the oil price in the coming months.

Underpinning the shift from an oil price in the $20s during the 1980s and 1990s to a current long-term oil price above $30 a barrel is Saudi Arabia’s budget requirements, he said.

“In the '80s Saudi Arabia could balance its budget with $20 a barrel oil,” he said. “But there’s been huge population growth and now, independent research estimate