Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz today received U.S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham, who also met with Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Al-Naimi. At a joint press conference, Minister Al-Naimi commented on the good relations between the members of OPEC and oil consumers, adding that although non-OPEC producers have no production quotas, they are all concerned about reaching a fair price. The $22 to $28 range, he said, is satisfactory to all parties, citing today's $25 per barrel as fair. He spoke of ongoing coordination between OPEC and non-OPEC exporters in efforts to curb overproduction, which has a negative impact on price. As regards OPEC's recent decision to reduce output, he explained that there were several options, including reducing production to the old ceiling of 24 million barrels per day, which would have meant siphoning three million barrels per day out of the current output. If this option had been taken, it would have led to price hikes, and the Kingdom's objective, like that of OPEC, is to preserve the current $25 per barrel price. What OPEC has done is to withdraw from the market about two million barrels per day, while maintaining a price in the OPEC-designated range. Minister Al-Naimi went on to say that at the moment Saudi Arabia is one of three nominees for the post of OPEC Secretary-General in the elections scheduled for September 2003, the others being Venezuela and Iran.
In response to a question on U.S. intentions as regards Iraq's oil, Secretary Abraham quoted U.S. President George W. Bush that Iraqi oil is the right of the people of Iraq, and noted that with the coalition forces able to protect the oil wells, the United States is exerting efforts to reconstruct the infrastructure of Iraqi oil to its pre-war levels. He also confirmed U.S. confidence in Saudi Arabia as regards the stability of the oil market, saying the Kingdom has proved to be a reliable partner capable of achieving this stability during oil crises.