Saudi Aramco refocuses spending plans

Nov. 22, 2011 at 9:22 AM

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- With other oil-producing countries nipping at Saudi Arabia's heels, an energy executive there said the country might shift its focus to other energy sectors.

Saudi Arabia announced it was halting a $100 billion expansion to its oil production capacity. Khalid al-Falih, chief executive at state-owned Saudi Aramco, told the Financial Times that other oil suppliers were making gains.

"There was pressure on the kingdom and Saudi Aramco to raise production (capacity)," he said. "That pressure, I think, has been substantially reduced."

Oil prices spiked to more than $125 per barrel as energy companies curtailed production from war-torn Libya during the summer. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries didn't raise official quotas in response though the International Energy Agency called on member states to release strategic reserves to offset market disruptions brought on the war in Libya.

Oil prices have since declined in part because of the global financial crisis. Saudi Arabia maintains a leadership position in terms of world oil producers, though the IEA estimates Iraq could become the leader in world oil supply growth. Other countries such as Canada, Brazil and Kazakhstan are close behind.

Falih told the Financial Times that Saudi Aramco was focusing its investment strategies on refining and natural gas.

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