Saudi Arabia has announced it is ready to pump another 1.3 million barrels a day of crude oil if the market needs it. A spokesman for the government says the gesture is intended to reassure the market that crude oil is available in order to keep prices at moderate levels.
Saudi government spokesman Adel al-Jubeir says the extra output would come from Saudi Arabia's two million barrel spare capacity.
"We have informed our customers we are ready to meet any additional requirements they may have by increasing our oil production by an additional 1.3 million barrels, if that is required and keeping it at that level indefinitely," he said.
Speaking from Jeddah, Mr. al-Jubeir added that the announcement is aimed at reassuring the market that extra crude is available but so far the demand is not there for it.
"We have seen very little increase in demand by our customers, which reaffirms our assessment that there are adequate supplies out there," he noted.
Mr. Jubeir cites recent developments in several oil-producing countries that triggered the precautionary move, including sabotage attacks against oil facilities in Iraq, controversy surrounding the future of the Russian oil firm Yukos and a simmering political crisis in Venezuela.
"We monitor the oil market and we look at the price situation," he explained. "And when we had this run-up to almost $45, it was not justified so we made the decision to reassure the market and reassure our customers."
The Saudi spokesman says the country's oil fields are well-protected against attempts to disrupt the Saudi oil production.