Saudi Arabia’s powerful oil minister, Ali Naimi, made a rare intervention into overheating oil markets on Tuesday, declaring that high oil prices were “unjustified” and vowing that the kingdom would boost its output by as much as 25 per cent if necessary.http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/f9f8eb00-729e-11e1-9be9-00144feab49a.html#axzz1pgZSZadL
As the west’s nuclear stand-off with Iran escalates, oil prices have rallied this month to a post-2008 peak of $128 a barrel with markets bracing for European Union sanctions on Iranian crude that could knock out a chunk of global supply.
“I think high prices are unjustified today [on] a supply-demand basis,” he said. “We really don’t understand why the prices are behaving the way they are.”
Asked if it could ease prices by exporting more oil, he said customers were not asking for additional crude. “We are ready and willing to put more oil on the market, but you need a buyer,” he said.
Up until now, Saudi Arabia has kept silent on the price rally, although it is pumping oil at 30-year highs. But a statement issued by the Saudi cabinet on Monday could signal a more active policy. The cabinet said that it had noted the risk high oil prices posed to economic growth and the kingdom would work individually and with others if necessary to “return oil prices [to] fair levels”.
When asked, however, Mr Naimi declined to specify what specific measures Saudi Arabia could take to moderate prices.
Sounds like a good publicity stunt.