— Saudi Arabia appears to be gathering allies in its move to quickly put even more oil into the market after an agreed increase in OPEC quotas failed to bring the price of oil down from nearly $30 a barrel.
Saudi sources were quoted as saying that the country, the only OPEC member with the capacity to pump significant quantities of extra oil so quickly, was considering putting an extra 500,000 barrels of oil a day, or bpd, on the market “immediately.”
Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi told the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) his country, in consultation with other producers, would increase output if prices don’t fall from more than $30 now to OPEC’s target of $25 a barrel.
“We have sought, and will continue in any way we can, to bring the prices down from their current level to the target levels of $25 per barrel of OPEC basket of crudes,” Naimi told SPA.
“If the price does not decrease, Saudi Arabia, in conjunction with other producers, will increase production by 500,000 bpd, within the next few days.”
It was not clear if this oil would come from Saudi Arabia alone or from a consortium of OPEC and non-OPEC countries.
Earlier, an OPEC source told Reuters that the kingdom was willing to unilaterally increase output if other producers could not.
“If the other producers are unable to increase production, Saudi Arabia is willing to do it alone,” the source said.
And OPEC President Ali Rodriguez of Venezuela said he knew nothing about Saudi Arabia’s decision, even as an official from OPEC member Qatar said the Saudis were acting alone.
But today Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh told Reuters and Iranian television that Naimi had promised him Saudi Arabia would continue to work inside OPEC.
“Mr. Naimi assured me in a telephone conversation he had with me today that Saudi Arabia will continue to act within OPEC frameworks and will not move outside them,” Zanganeh told reporters.
“Consultations between Iran and Saudi Arabia will continue about oil matters on a regular basis. Any decision on oil output hike will be on the basis of OPEC’s decisions and understandings among all OPEC members,” he said.
Many Factors to Price Decline
Rodriguez said on June 29 that he expected the extra output of 708,000 bpd agreed at the OPEC June meeting, which started July 1, to have a moderating effect on oil prices.
He added that OPEC leaders would evaluate the effects of the increase after one or two weeks and make whatever corrections were “necessary.”
The Venezuelan minister emphasized that it would take time to bring oil and gasoline prices down. “As soon as the U.S. resolves its gasoline problem, and as soon as crude oil from the Gulf States arrives in the U.S., all of these factors will lead to a fall in the oil price,” he said.
It takes an average of 45 days for a cargo of crude oil from the Gulf to reach American refineries. From there it takes several weeks more to reach the pump as gasoline, promising no relief for motorists during the vacation season.
On June 30, the eve of the deadline for the agreed to extra 708,000 bpd to enter the market, OPEC Secretary General Rilwanu Lukman, Nigeria’s oil minister, said that the new oil should be given time to have the desired bearish impact on high prices, but if that did not happen the group would be “obliged to put in extra.”
Oil Remains Above $28 per Barrel Mark