Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia has 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) of spare oil production capacity, which could be supplied to the world market immediately if needed, Oil Minister Ali Al Naimi said today.

"We can go up a million and a half barrels per day," Naimi told reporters in Manila. "It depends on demand, all we need is customers."

Saudi Arabia, along with other members of the OPEC producers' cartel, agreed last week to raise group output by 500,000 bpd with immediate effect to try to cool oil prices that spiked to a record at $57.60 a barrel for U.S. crude on Thursday.

U.S. light crude traded down 2 cents to $56.70 a barrel at 0450 GMT today.

"The perception in the market is that there is not enough supply, which is untrue. There's plenty," Naimi said after meeting Philippine energy officials.

OPEC ministers may begin talks this week over a second 500,000-bpd production increase if prices do not ease below $55.

Naimi said OPEC could decide at "any time" to add the extra barrels.

"The president just had a meeting a week ago, he is looking at it right now and the possibility of consulting with other ministers," Naimi said, referring to OPEC President Shaikh Ahmad Al Fahd Al Sabah.

"He has the authority to suggest uplifting the ceiling to 28 million bpd," Naimi said.

Saudi Arabia is pumping about 9.5 million bpd out of a capacity of 11 million bpd and is working to raise production to 12.5 million bpd, he said.

"We are building capacity over the next four years to 12.5, so the increment will come in 2006, another in 2007 and a third in 2008 and finally a big one will come in 2009. That effort is really to alleviate this unnecessary concern, (about) a shortage of supply," he said.