Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Al-Naimi said in an interview with Al-Riyadh newspaper published today that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been able, through coordination with major oil-producing countries both inside and outside OPEC, to put an end to the decline in oil prices. He went on to reveal that Saudi Arabia has been negotiating with Exxon on the implementation of a joint project in China, which will hopefully be finalized during the upcoming state visit of Crown Prince Abdullah Ibn Abdul Aziz, Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard. In addition, the Kingdom has been negotiating with a number of U.S. oil companies to expand the scope of the refineries and retail markets in the USA.
Minister Al-Naimi pointed out that it is possible for the world’s seven or eight major oil-producing countries to coordinate amongst themselves without taking the form of an oil cartel like OPEC. This coordination can take the shape of voluntary cooperation with the purpose of increasing national income through a rise in production quotas and the establishment of a reasonable price.
Minister Al-Naimi went on to say that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a pioneering country as far as the production of natural gas is concerned, adding that the plan is to increase its production from four billion to seven billion cubic feet within the next five years. Asked whether Crown Prince Abdullah’s talks with Chinese and Korean officials would cover petroleum issues, he said there was no doubt of this. He underscored the importance of widening the scope of cooperation in the oil sector, and reiterated the Kingdom’s concern to provide South Korea with its requirements of petroleum and its derivatives.
Concerning the possibility of increased oil prices, he said that prediction in this area is very difficult, adding that all statements pertaining to future oil prices are mostly estimates and the only way is to study prevailing trends. He remarked: “As regard to the petroleum industry, we are neither optimists nor pessimists, but deal with matters in a realistic manner and work for the improvement of prices in a manner that raises our revenues and gradually increases our oil quota in the market.”