Saudi to hike oil production capacity to 11 million bpd


RIYADH, AFP

Saudi Arabia will increase oil production capacity to 11 million barrels per day (bpd) within weeks in a bid to curb record prices, Oil Minister Ali al-Nuaimi said Tuesday.

The kingdom will use the Abu Safah and Qatif fields, “which are now on stream, to hike its production capacity to 11 million barrels per day by intensifying well drilling in producing fields,” he said.

The Arabic version of Nuaimi’s statement said the increase would take place “within the next few weeks.”

Nuaimi said this would give Saudi Arabia, currently pumping 9.5 million bpd, a surplus output capacity of 1.5 million bpd. He said the bulk of the increment from the fields, which recently came on stream in the Eastern Province, will be of the Arabian Light Crude.

Nuaimi stressed that Saudi Arabia, the world’s top crude exporter, was “fully prepared and well equipped to meet the oil requirements of its customers for any additional quantities of oil.

“The kingdom is also ready and capable of making up for production shortfall occurring anywhere in the world,” he added.

Saudi Arabia “seeks to stabilize the market and curb the escalation of prices that could be detrimental to the growth of the global economy, particularly that of developing countries,” Nuaimi said.

The announcement came after oil prices moved above US$50 a barrel.

In New York the price of light sweet crude for November delivery climbed to an all time peak of US$50.47 per barrel, the highest level since oil began trading on the New York market in 1983.

Crude oil futures smashed the 50-dollar barrier for the first time in after-hours New York trading on Monday, mainly because of unrest in Saudi Arabia and Nigeria, another major oil producer.

(Related stories on page 13)