OSLO, Norway, AP – Saudi Arabia”s Oil Minister Ali Naimi said Saturday he backed an increase in OPEC”s production ceiling but questioned whether global demand was high enough to justify adding more oil to the market.
Speaking at a news conference after meeting with Norwegian Oil and Energy Minister Thorhild Widvey, Naimi said Saudi Arabia was pumping 9.5 million barrels a day in June. The kingdom is the world”s largest oil exporter.
"That”s what is needed by customers," he said. "That”s what they are asking for. They are not asking for 10 million barrels a day."
He added that "there is no shortage of supply," but he said raising the production ceiling is still "reasonable."
Naimi is set to fly to Vienna, Austria, on Monday ahead of an Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries meeting Wednesday. At that meeting, the cartel is likely to raise its production ceiling by 1.8 percent, to 28 million barrels a day.
OPEC has an official ceiling of 27.5 million barrels a day but is producing about 30 million.
Naimi attributed the current high crude prices to constraints in the worldwide refining system.
"That is where the bottleneck is," he said.