Saudis 'to increase oil output'

New York Times report comes as G8 ministers urge oil- and food-price stability.

    Paulson has said that the spike in oil prices is a
    problem of supply and demand [AFP]

    George Bush, the US president, has pressed Saudi Arabia to increase its oil production in two visits to the country earlier this year.
     
    Ibrahim al-Muhanna, an adviser at the Saudi petroleum ministry, declined to comment on the production increase, the Times said.
     
    However, he noted that Saudi Arabia is uncomfortable with current oil prices.
     
    "Our goal is to bring back stability to the oil market," al-Muhanna said.
     
    Higher ever output
     
    The increase, which the Times said may be made public early next week, could put the Saudis' output at 10 million barrels a day, which would be its highest-ever output if sustained.
     
    The current level is 9.45 million barrels daily.
     
    The move is seen as an indication that Saudi Arabia is nervous about the political and economic impact of higher oil prices, the report said.
     
    Oil prices have risen 40 per cent this year to nearly $140 a barrel, causing record US petrol prices.
     
    Some analysts forecast that the price could rise to $200 a barrel this year.
     
    G8 statement
     
    In related news, Henry Paulson, the US treasury secretary, has said that the spike in oil prices is a problem of supply and demand and not caused by speculators.
     
    Speaking at a meeting of finance ministers of the group of eight industrialised nations in Osaka, western Japan, Paulson urged countries on Saturday to let markets work, not rely on subsidies, and pressed oil-producing countries to allow more investment in oil exploration and production.
     
    The G8 groups Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the US.
     
    "This is not something that lends itself to short-term solutions,'' Paulson said after the meeting ended.
     
    For their part, the G8 ministers urged oil-producing nations to boost output to help stabilise oil and food prices.
     
    The world economy faces uncertainty and inflationary pressures because of the recent rise in prices, the ministers said in a joint statement after two days of talks.
     
    They vowed to work together to secure stability and growth, and called for aid to address a looming food crisis in developing nations.
     
    The agenda for the talks spanned a range of issues, including troubled financial markets and helping developing nations fight global warming.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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