Last updated: 12 December, 2011

Saudi Arabia mum over OPEC call, happy with kingdom’s output

Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi on Monday refused to be drawn on the outcome of this week’s OPEC output meeting, but said he was happy with the kingdom’s crude output level of over 10 million barrels per day.

“We (OPEC) haven’t met yet so we will tell you what will happen when we meet” on Wednesday in Vienna, Naimi told reporters on arrival in the Austrian capital, speaking on behalf of OPEC’s biggest crude producer.

Asked if he was happy with Saudi Arabia’s current level of output, he replied: “Yes.” Naimi added that Saudi produced 10.047 million barrels of crude oil per day in November to meet demand coming “from all over” the world.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is meeting in Vienna, where the cartel is based, to decide whether to change its oil production levels in the face of heightened Iran tensions, higher Libyan output and a weak economy.

Analysts widely expect the organization, which supplies a third of the world’s crude, to maintain its official output target of 24.84 million barrels per day — where it has stood for almost three years.

But with the International Energy Agency estimating that actual OPEC production, excluding Iraq, stood at 27.32 mbpd in October, the cartel may decide to issue a statement promising stricter compliance with its quotas.

The cartel meets periodically to set production levels, hoping that its decisions result in favourable market oil prices for its dozen members, which also include current OPEC president Iran, Libya, Nigeria and Venezuela.

Iran’s oil minister Rostam Qasemi on Sunday renewed calls for Saudi Arabia and fellow OPEC member Kuwait to ease back their above-quota production as Libyan oil flows back into the market.

The two Gulf states boosted production to compensate for the suspension of Libyan oil exports to avoid a surge in world prices after the North African country’s descent into civil war this year.

Tehran, which traditionally favours high oil prices, has on several occasions called for a halt to the above-quota production since Libya resumed production in September, but it has largely not been heeded.

OPEC Secretary General Abdullah El-Badri last week said that current oil prices of around $100 a barrel were “satisfactory,” adding that crude supply was adequate — indicating that its official output ceiling would stay on hold.