Saudis plan oil boost next year

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Resources -

SAUDI Ara­bia is com­mit­ted to in­creas­ing its oil-pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity, Euro­pean com­mis­sioner for ex­ter­nal re­la­tions Benita Fer­rero-Wald­ner has said af­ter meet­ing with the king­dom’s oil min­is­ter Ali al-Naimi in Riyadh.

‘‘ The Saudi au­thor­i­ties have told me that they are al­ready work­ing on in­ten­si­fy­ing their pro­duc­tion in a high way in or­der to be ready to be a big­ger sup­plier of oil, and hop­ing that this could bring down oil prices,’’ Fer­rero-Wald­ner said.

Saudi Ara­bia’s crude oil pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity will reach 12.5 mil­lion bar­rels a day next year and may rise to 15 mil­lion bar­rels a day at some point in the fu­ture, al-Naimi has said on pre­vi­ous oc­ca­sions. The coun­try’s crude pro­duc­tion was 9.2 mil­lion bar­rels a day last month, com­pared with its ca­pac­ity of about 10.8 mil­lion bar­rels a day, ac­cord­ing to Bloomberg es­ti­mates.

‘‘ We are, of course, all con­cerned about high oil prices,’’ the EU’s Fer­rero-Wald­ner said. ‘‘ This is one of the rea­sons that we have been try­ing to di­ver­sify, why we are look­ing to­wards gas, why we are work­ing to­gether on new tech­nolo­gies, like wind and so­lar.’’

Crude oil fu­tures traded in New York reached a record $US112.21 a bar­rel on April 9. The Or­gan­i­sa­tion of Pe­tro­leum Ex­port­ing Coun­tries shouldn’t pro­duce more oil right now, be­cause the mar­ket was al­ready well sup­plied, al-Naimi told a con­fer­ence in Paris the next day.

Oil had risen be­cause of the fall in the value of the dol­lar and fi­nan­cial spec­u­la­tion, the Saudi min­is­ter said. In­ter­na­tional En­ergy Agency ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Nobuo Tanaka said the weak dol­lar, com­bined with a lack of spare pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity and geopo­lit­i­cal risks, was sup­port­ing oil prices.

Saudi Ara­bia’s King Ab­dul­lah said some new oil dis­cov­er­ies would re­main un­tapped to pre­serve the na­tion’s oil wealth for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. ‘‘ Let them re­main in the ground for our chil­dren and grand­chil­dren who need them,’’ the king said.

Saudi Ara­bia has been in­vited to join the Euro­pean Union’s sev­enth Frame­work Pro­gram for Re­search and Tech­no­log­i­cal De­vel­op­ment, which will lead to col­lab­o­ra­tion on new en­ergy tech­nol­ogy, ac­cord­ing to Fer­rero-Wald­ner.

She also dis­cussed plans for Europe to im­port both gas and elec­tric­ity from Saudi Ara­bia in the ‘‘ mid-to-long term’’.

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