Cairo: Top oil producer Saudi Arabia will adhere to the 30 million barrels-a-day production ceiling maintained earlier this month by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, but will meet any customer demand for additional crude, the country’s Oil Minister Ali Al Naimi said on Friday. “There are customers that will come to every producer and ask for a volume, today, we will honour their requests,” Naimi told reporters in a briefing in Cairo. Naimi declined to specify how much Saudi Arabia was currently producing, but said he was keen to meet its customers’ demand. Opec, as expected, decided to keep its oil-production ceiling unchanged at a meeting in Vienna on December 12, but failed to agree on a new leader and instead extended the term of its current secretary-general for one year after highly charged discussions. Opec scrapped individual members’ production quotas a year ago in favour of a collective ceiling of 30 million barrels a day. Asked if Saudi Arabia is willing to return to individual quotas if other Opec members demand it at a later stage, Naimi said that the kingdom “will honour the requests of its members.”
In Vienna, ministers gave no indication of whether they would do anything to reduce excess production, which runs about 1 million barrels a day over the level of supply Opec expects the world will need from it next year. This has come as Iraq’s oil industry is being rejuvenated with fresh investment from international oil companies, and after Saudi Arabia has maintained the higher levels of production that were designed to help fill a shortfall during Libya’s civil war last year. Naimi said that requests for extra crude “reflects what the market needs.
“My wish is for everyone to leave the market alone,” he said. “This is the best time for the market. The market is functioning well, supply is healthy, demand matches supply and if there is any extra supply it is helping inventories,” Naimi said.
Naimi was speaking ahead of the Organisation of the Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries meeting in Cairo scheduled for Saturday. Oapec doesn’t set policy for its members, but the meeting brings together seven members of Opec-Algeria, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.