Saudi Arabia and Norway to cooperate on oil production

Mar 02, 2004 01:00 AM

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Norway, two of the world's leading oil exporters, have agreed to liaise more closely on oil production. The agreement came during talks in Riyadh between Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy Einar Steensnaes and Saudi Minister of Petroleum & Mineral Resources Ali Al-Naimi. The two countries have said they will coordinate their positions and work together to maintain oil price stability.
"It is extremely important that the international market, certainly the consuming countries, should always feel that the major producers are constantly in dialogue to make sure that supply is sufficient and that there are no shortages," said the Saudi minister, adding that it was "extremely important" that the market remain stable. He called for greater dialogue among all oil-producing countries to ensure stability in the oil market.

The talks between the two follow a call a few weeks ago from Steensnaes, while in Moscow, for OPEC and non-OPEC producers to join forces to boost production and bring oil prices down to help the global economy. At the time he said that neither Norway, the world's third largest exporter, nor Russia could boost production any further because production in both was at capacity. However, he hinted strongly that that OPEC members should do so.
Norway is not a member of OPEC. Al-Naimi would not say if OPEC would review the decision to cut output next month if prices remain high.
"I've always gone on record that I do not predict what we will do in the next meeting," he said when asked about the chances of OPEC reviewing its decision. OPEC decided on Feb. 10 in Algiers to cut its combined output quota of 24.5 mm bpd by 1 mm bpd from April 1.

Commenting on his talks with Al-Naimi, Steensnaes said that "we certainly agree on the main assessments and the situation in the market, but both of us have some differences also on certain issues."
Nonetheless, he believed that OPEC and particularly Minister Al-Naimi had adopted "a very constructive approach" in managing the oil market in recent years and said that the two countries would be working "closely" on issues affecting the market in future. Steensnaes' visit to Riyadh is viewed as "very important" by the local oil analysts, because of the current high price of oil.

The talks at the ministry were also attended by Prince Abdul Aziz ibn Salman, undersecretary at the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Prince Faisal ibn Turki, an adviser at the ministry, and other senior Saudi officials. The Norwegian minister later visited the newly-opened International Energy Forum Secretariat (IEFS) at the Diplomatic Quarter in Riyadh. He was briefed there about the organization's activities by its secretary-general Arne Walther.
The IEFS was set up on the initiative of Crown Prince Abdullah, deputy premier and commander of the National Guard, to promote global dialogue between ministers of energy producing and consuming countries.

Walther said he expected both Al-Naimi and Steensnaes to play a "prominent" role in the forthcoming ministerial meeting of the International Energy Forum to be held in Amsterdam on May 22.
Some 60 countries and international organizations will participate in the meeting.

Source: Arab News
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