Apr 30 2013

Saudi Arabia plans to up production capacity, exports by 2020-Prince

Saudi Arabia plans to up production capacity, exports by 2020-Prince

Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013

By Summer Said

Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia plans to increase its production capacity to 15 million barrels a day from 12.5 million barrels and have an export potential of 10 million barrels a day by 2020, Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former intelligence chief and a prominent member of the kingdom's royal family, said.

The kingdom's spare capacity "is the outcome of a capacity expansion program from 10 million barrels per day to 12.5 million barrels per day and beyond, which the Kingdom is undertaking at a cost of over $100 billion in petroleum infrastructure," Prince Faisal said in a speech delivered last week at Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

"Saudi Arabia's national production management scheme is set to increase total capacity to 15 million barrels per day and have an export potential of 10 [million] barrels per day by 2020," he said in the speech posted late Monday on the Belfer Center website.

However, these comments appear to contradict previous statements by Khalid Al Falih, Chief Executive of state-oil giant Saudi Arabian Oil Co., or Saudi Aramco , who told The Wall Street Journal in 2011 that the Gulf state is unlikely to proceed with plans to raise its oil output capacity to that level as expansion plans in other producing countries such as Iraq and Brazil should be enough to satisfy world markets.

Prince Turki, a former Saudi ambassador to the U.S. and U.K., has no formal government position. His office declined to clarify Tuesday the contradictions between his statement and Saudi Aramco 's official position. Aramco was also not immediately available for comment.

If Saudi Arabia did increase its capacity to 15 million barrels a day, the capacity of the kingpin of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries could almost instantly replace all of Iraq's oil exports, OPEC's second power, Prince Faisal added. Iraq's crude oil exports in March were down by 5% to 2.417 million barrels a day on month, according to people familiar with the State Oil Marketing Organization. The country's Oil Minister Abdul Kareem Luaiby said Tuesday he expects oil exports to rise to 3.4 million barrels a day in 2014.

In 2008, when oil prices surged to a record $147 a barrel, Saudi Arabian then oil minister Ali al-Naimi said the kingdom was examining plans to raise the country's production capacity to 15 million barrels a day in an attempt to reassure markets concerned about long-term security of supply.

With most members of OPEC producing at full capacity, the amount of Saudi Arabia's unused output is closely watched by oil markets.

Saudi Arabia, which is producing about 9 million barrels a day, is the only OPEC state that can significantly raise output to offset market disruptions. Two of the strongest periods of oil price increases--from 2003 to 2005 and 2007 to 2008--coincided with OPEC spare capacity falling to historic lows.

Write to Summer Said at summer.said@dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

30-04-13 1014GMT

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