THE ASSOCIATED PRESSRIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia plans to increase its oil production by 200,000 barrels a day next month, the kingdom's oil minister told U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon on Sunday, according to Ban's spokesman.
The U.N. secretary-general met with Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi in the port city of Jiddah during a one-day trip to the world's largest oil producer.
Farhan Haq, a spokesman who is traveling with Ban, said in an e-mail that the U.N. chief said al-Naimi told him Saudi Arabia would increase oil production by 200,000 barrels a day from June to July. In May, the kingdom increased its production by 300,000.
By July, production should be at 9.7 million barrels a day, Haq said.
The 200,000-barrel-a-day boost is significant — it will raise Saudi Arabia's daily production by about 2 percent. But to a market that has been sending oil prices soaring to record heights due in part to strong global demand, the move might be seen as marginal.
The oil market largely ignored Saudi Arabia's 300,000-barrel-a-day output increase last month.
Ban also said Saudi Arabia understands that the current price of oil, which topped $139 per barrel this month, is not normal, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.
"The king believes that the current oil prices are abnormally high, and he is ready to restore prices to their appropriate levels," SPA quoted Ban as telling reporters in Jiddah. The report carried by SPA was in Arabic, and it did not say what language Ban spoke in.
Saudi Arabia is concerned that sustained high oil prices will eventually diminish the world's appetite for oil, affecting the kingdom in the long run.
The kingdom has called for a meeting of oil producing and consuming countries next Sunday in Jiddah to discuss ways of dealing with soaring energy prices.
The New York Times reported on Saturday, citing unnamed analysts and oil traders briefed by Saudi officials, that a production increase of about 500,000 barrels per day was to be announced following the meeting.
On Saturday, al-Naim's adviser said that the minister would address the production increase reports the next day. But on Sunday, the adviser, Ibrahim al-Muhanna, said there was no meeting to address the reports scheduled.
Further attempts to reach al-Muhanna by phone later Sunday went unanswered.
Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil producer, is concerned that sustained high oil prices will eventually slacken the world's appetite for oil, affecting the kingdom in the long run.
Crude prices have reached record highs, surpassing $139 per barrel on June 6 after surging nearly $11 in the biggest single-day price leap ever.
The current president of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Chakib Khelil, has said that the cartel will make no new decision on production levels until its Sept. 9 meeting in Vienna. OPEC ministers often follow the lead of the Saudis when discussing whether to increase production to take the pressure off rising prices.
Can anyone find the thread that said Bush's meeting over there several weeks ago failed? It's amazing how short-sighted some people are and how a lack of understanding of the diplomatic process spurs ridiculous conclusions that turn out to be false.
People here were saying that because the meeting didn't conclude with an announcement of more oil production, the meeting failed. Did you really expect the Saudis, after meeting with Bush, to seem cave in and immediately ramp up production?
Newsflash - The seeds for this increase were planted with the Bush meeting several weeks ago. They simply needed to wait for that meeting to fade from memory a little bit so they didn't appear to be caving in to George Bush, which doesn't go over well in the Middle East or anywhere else for that matter.