Saudi Arabia: It's 'premature' to speak about oil-output hike

Ali al-Nuaimi, the Oil Minister of Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) kingpin Saudi Arabia, said on Monday that it was premature to talk about a possible increase in crude production by the cartel.

“Right now it will be very premature to tell you what the assessment is” of oil data, which Opec expects to study ahead of Wednesday’s output decision, he said.

“We have not looked at the data yet. Tomorrow [Tuesday] and the day after we will have an opportunity to look at all the data. We will assess and decide,” he added in Abu Dhabi.

Opec ministers began arriving in the United Arab Emirates capital on Monday for a crucial meeting later in the week to decide whether the 13-member cartel will boost oil supplies or leave production unchanged.

Opec, which pumps about 40% of the world’s oil, is concerned that raising output could oversupply the market, further dampening prices, which dropped below $88 a barrel on Monday.

Although oil prices extended losses, last month they struck historic highs above $99.

Nuaimi, whose country is the world’s biggest oil producer and exporter, declined to comment on Monday on whether Opec would be prepared to hike output to cool soaring prices as it did in September.

“We will look at the data,” he said, adding that prices were determined by market forces.

“Market determines that,” said Nuaimi, adding that Opec has no control over prices.—AFP