Kuwaiti Oil Minister Sheikh Saud Nasser al-Sabah said in comments published Thursday that the emirate was unable to meet its new OPEC output quota and could not produce a single extra barrel.
"Our quota has been increased by 64,000 barrels per day but we do not have the necessary capacity for such an increase. Kuwait cannot produce a single barrel more," Sheikh Saud told the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper.
He added that he did not expect oil prices to fall from 10-year highs in the foreseeable future.
"Our production capacity has reached its limit. So, it's natural that oil prices would continue a rising trend, especially that winter orders are on the way," he said.
At the OPEC meeting on September 10, the emirate's output quota was increased by 64,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 2.101 million bpd as part of a boost in overall production by the cartel of 800,000 bpd from October 1.
"Production capacity of OPEC members is currently at its maximum level. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have some spare capacity, but Kuwait has no extra output and is producing to its limits," Sheikh Saud said.
His comments followed statements by Venezuelan Energy Minister Ali Rodriguez on Wednesday that the cartel was capable of pumping an additional two million bpd if necessary.
Sheikh Saud attributed the lack of any spare capacity in Kuwait, which sits on an estimated 10 percent of world reserves, to a delay in reconstruction works at two huge gathering centers by a Chinese contractor.
The two centers, due for completion in December and February, two years behind schedule, are expected to boost Kuwait's production capacity by 300,000 bpd to around 2.5 million bpd.
Sheikh Saud said that the decision by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to hike output by 800,000 bpd will have no impact on oil prices because "the increase was already in the market."
"Prices may stabilize or start to decline next January or February. But (we must remember) that demand for oil in winter and summer is almost equal," the minister said.
Sheikh Saud also renewed calls on Western governments to cut high taxes on fuel to help bring consumer prices down: "There is no way to talk about output hikes from any source to bring prices down. Prices won't come down without a tax cut."
The Kuwaiti minister doubted if the 11 OPEC members would be able to do anything at their next meeting scheduled for November 12.
"We have not agreed to hike production. We said we would meet on November 12 to assess the oil market. I want to ask a question: if we met in November and the price was high, what would we be able to do?" he asked.
"We will implement the price band mechanism -- hike output by 500,000 bpd. But who in OPEC has the ability to increase production?" – KUWAIT CITY (AFP)
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