Oil-rich Riyadh defends market role

Jan. 31, 2012 at 6:21 AM
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LONDON, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- Saudi Arabia maintains the unilateral ability to respond to any future oil shock to ensure market stability, the country's oil minister said.

Saudi Oil Minister Ali Naimi told the Platts news service from London that the kingdom underwent a "massive program" to increase oil production. He said, without providing figures, that investments ensured Saudi Arabia would maintain a leadership position in global energy markets for the foreseeable future.

"I would like to state for the record here in London, that the kingdom will continue to be a reliable, steady and dependable supplier of energy to the world," he said.

The International Energy Agency last year called on its members to release oil from strategic reserves to offset market disruptions from oil production shortages from war-torn Libya. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries left official production quotas in check last summer though members like Saudi Arabia made unilateral moves.

A Platts survey of OPEC production from December found Saudi Arabia produced 9.8 million barrels of crude oil. It has the capacity to produce 12.5 million bpd.

"It is because of our ongoing investment that Saudi Arabia is able to respond to shortages around the world," the minister said. "And it is because of our investment that any future shortages will be handled."

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