Saudi Arabia and other OPEC producers could raise their output to make up for Iraq's halt to exports, Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Nuaimi said Saturday.
"Saudi Arabia is consulting with OPEC countries and the International Energy Agency as the representative of consumer countries to evaluate the current situation on the market," he said, quoted by the official news agency SPA.
"In case of a cut in supplies, these consultations will lead to a practical position that guarantees market stability and remedies any anomaly," said Nuaimi.
"Our responsibility as producer countries is not only to cut production when needed but also to raise it when that contributes to market stability," said the oil minister of Saudi Arabia, the world's top producer and exporter.
On Friday, Iraq halted oil exports that are authorised under a UN humanitarian programme for the sanctions-hit country.
Baghdad has pinned the blamed for the move, which takes 2.3 million barrels per day (bpd) off the world market, on the United Nations for rejecting its pricing formula for oil exports in December.
Nuaimi said OPEC countries had spare capacity of 2.5 million bpd, at least 70 percent of which was accounted for by Saudi Arabia. "This guarantees the stability of the market and shelters it from a shortage of supplies," he said.
"Our aim is to shelter the market from factors outside the oil economy and from fluctuations which harm the world economy and the oil industry at the same time," said Nuaimi.
"Big fluctuations in the level of supply and demand and those which affect prices arising from non-economic factors are not in the interests of the oil industry nor of producer countries for which it is their main source of revenue."
His Kuwaiti counterpart, Sheikh Saud Nasser al-Sabah, also said Friday that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries was discussing joint measures after Iraq's decision to halt exports.
"Kuwait is in discussion with the other members of OPEC to handle any negative effects that could be caused by the Iraqi decision to stop its crude exports," Sheikh Saud said.—AFP.
©--Agence France Presse.
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )