Saudi Arabia shows it will not quell oil prices, by cutting output

SAUDI Arabia’s oil minister said yesterday the kingdom had slashed output by 800,000 barrels per day in March due to oversupply, sending the strongest signal yet that OPEC will not act to quell soaring prices.

Consumers have urged the exporters’ group to pump more crude to put a cap on oil, which surged to more than $127 a barrel this month, its highest level in 2 1/2 years amid unrest in North Africa and the Middle East.

Oil Ministers from Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates echoed Saudi Arabia’s Ali al-Naimi’s concerns about oversupply and said rocketing crude prices were out of the hands of OPEC, which next meets in June.

“The market is overbalanced ... Our production in February was 9.125m barrels per day (bpd), in March it was 8.292m bpd. In April we don’t know yet, probably a little higher than March. The reason I gave you these numbers is to show you that the market is oversupplied,” Naimi told reporters.

Two Saudi-based industry sources said last week the kingdom had cut output due to poor demand, prompting selling by traders who saw it as a sign of a well-supplied market. But crude rebounded later in the week on optimism about the US economy.