Last updated: 8 May, 2012

Saudi Arabia ready to boost oil output

Saudi Arabia is ready to boost its oil output, the country’s oil minister said in Japan on Tuesday, adding that current crude prices were “high”.

Ali Naimi said the kingdom presently produces around 10 million barrels per day (bpd) and had plenty of slack, Dow Jones Newswires reported.

“We have 2.5 million barrels a day of spare capacity, and 80 million barrels of stocks,” Naimi told reporters.

“We always satisfy our customers’ requests. Whenever there is a request, we’ll satisfy it,” he said, adding: “Oil prices are still too high,” without specifying where they should be.

In Asian trade Tuesday, New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for delivery in June was down 21 cents at $97.73 per barrel while Brent North Sea crude for June gained 33 cents to $113.49 in the afternoon.

Quizzed on whether OPEC might raise its output ceiling at a meeting next month, Naimi said: “You have to wait for the meeting there. We have to discuss that.”

Naimi met with Japanese trade and industry minister Yukio Edano, who said earlier in the day that he would ask for a continued stable supply of crude oil to Japan, the agency reported.

Resource-poor and energy-hungry Japan heavily relies on oil imports from the Middle East, a situation that has been exacerbated by the shuttering of all of its nuclear reactors following the disaster at Fukushima last year.

International sanctions aimed at pushing Iran to give up what the West says is a nuclear weapons programme have led to Japan, amongst others, reducing purchases of oil from Tehran.