Oil demand in Asia is strong and Saudi Arabia is ready to supply any more crude needed, its oil minister said on Tuesday during a visit to China, as the world’s top crude exporter aims to maintain its market share.
Saudi Arabia’s Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi had told officials in Beijing the kingdom was ready to supply China with additional oil if required, state news agency SPA reported on Monday.
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,” 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.
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 veteran 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.
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.