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Saudi Arabia Ready to Increase Oil Production - 2004-06-02


As OPEC oil ministers prepare for the start of their quarterly meeting Thursday in Beirut, Saudi Oil Minister Ali al Nuami says his country is ready to increase production.

The Saudi Oil Minister drew rapt attention from his audience as he vowed his nation is fully ready to "ramp up production" to meet growing demand. He said the Saudi and OPEC target price for crude is in the range of $22 to $28 per barrel, and blamed factors largely outside of OPEC's control for the current record prices.

He told the conference the goal of Saudi policy is to keep the oil market in balance.

"The petroleum policy aims at the stability of the international oil market by creating a balance of supply and demand, by maintaining good reserves that will serve the needs across all seasons of the year," he said.

He said now that oil prices have skyrocketed well above the target, the role of OPEC is to restore balance.

"The most important role of the [Saudi] Kingdom and the oil producing countries of OPEC is to sustain production levels that should meet the crisis," said Ali al Nuami. "Drawing on the unused reserves now is important to stabilize the market and avoid major crises."

He also said events such as the assault on a foreign workers' compound that left 22 people dead last weekend will not affect production.

OPEC President Indonesian Oil Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said earlier the oil cartel could quickly increase production by up to 12 percent. He said OPEC production is around 28 million barrels a day, considerably above its official quota of 23.5 million barrels.

Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates pledged to increase production by 400,000 barrels per day and Kuwait also indicated it would increase production.