Petroleum and Mineral Resources Minister Ali Al-Naimi.

Singapore: Oil demand in Asia is strong and Saudi Arabia is ready to supply any more crude needed, Petroleum and Mineral Resources Minister

Ali Al-Naimi said during a visit to China, as the Kingdom aims to maintain its market share.

Petroleum and Mineral Resources Minister Ali Al-Naimi had told officials in Beijing the Kingdom was ready to supply China with additional oil if required, SPA reported.

On Tuesday, he reiterated that message and said while a roughly 50 percent drop in global oil prices since June last year had helped growing economies in Asia “sudden rises or falls in the cost of oil are not welcome.”

“Asian demand for oil remains strong and we are ready to supply whatever is required. As the Asian population grows, and as the middle class expands, so the demand for energy will increase,” Al-Naimi said in a speech in Beijing.

“Oil will retain its pre-eminent position and Saudi Arabia will remain the number one supplier. We should not lose sight of these facts and the importance of our ongoing relationship,” he said.

AL-Naimi was the driving force behind the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (OPEC) decision in November to keep output unchanged, refusing calls to cut production so as not to lose market share to rival producers.

The minister has said Saudi Arabian output would probably remain about 10 million barrels of oil a day, a sign the Kingdom has slowly started to claw back its market share.

Al-Naimi’s visit to China follows an earlier trip to South Korea, suggesting that Riyadh was not waiting for a bigger market share to come its way, but was proactively managing the situation.

“Saudi Arabia is a consistent, stable and reliable supplier of quality oil. We are the most reliable supplier on earth. Quality and quantity is assured,” he said in Beijing.

“We have proved, over many years, to be a reliable partner for China as its energy demands have increased. We remain committed to this partnership, and to this friendship.”

He said Riyadh exports around one million barrels of oil per day to China.

“Twenty years ago, Saudi Arabia exported a minuscule 20,000 barrels of oil per day to China. Today, we export around one million barrels each day,” he said.

Al-Naimi also said Saudi Arabia seeks fair and stable oil prices that benefit producers and consumers, allowing global supply and demand to grow at a steady pace.

“For Saudi Arabia, it’s about a fair price. One that is fair for producers, consumers and industry,” he said. “It’s also about stability ... it’s in all our interests to ensure stable prices.”

In his speech, the minister also said: “Saudi Arabia is the world’s premier supplier of oil. We have huge reserves and an unrivaled record of reliability, continuity and quality. We have invested vast sums to maintain a spare capacity which has ensured global oil demand needs are met whatever the challenge. No other country comes close to our dependable and professional approach. We are a stable nation and we have a long-term view.”

Separately, official data showed that Saudi Arabia’s crude oil exports fell in February from a month earlier, while volumes used by local refineries remained steady.

Al-Naimi has said the kingdom’s was producing around 10 million barrels of oil a day in April and that he was “very positive” about Asian oil demand outlook.

Saudi Arabia shipped 7.35 million barrels per day of crude oil in February this year, down from 7.474 million in January, data supplied by Saudi Arabia to the Joint Organizations Data Initiative (JODI) showed.

Despite the slight fall in Saudi’s exports in February, figures were higher than the average monthly crude shipments from May until December last year.

Production was steady in February at 9.636 million bpd from 9.680 million bpd in January, the data showed.

Refined oil products exports rose to 815,000 bpd in February from 798,000 bpd a month earlier, the JODI data showed.

 

Domestic refiners processed 2.084 million bpd of crude in February, down from 2.104 million bpd in January, according to the data. Source: reuters.