News Journal Online - 3/5/2006
Saudi Arabia's oil minister said Tuesday that currently high crude oil prices are of no long-term benefit to either producers or consumers and contribute to market instability.
"Energy security cannot be sustained when prices are extreme -- too high or too low," Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said in remarks to an energy conference.
He said Saudi Arabia is committed to working with the United States to keep oil markets stable, including plans to increase production to 12.5 million barrels a day by 2009. But he said that producing adequate supplies must involve other suppliers and conservation.
Oil prices went above $74 a barrel Tuesday, flirting with their record high of just above $75 reached last month.
Al-Naimi, who was joined in a panel discussion by Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman, sought to dispel the notion that U.S. energy independence could drive down prices, although he did not specifically refer to the phrase frequently use by the Bush administration and members of Congress as an answer to America's energy problems.
It is "a myth" that countries can lower prices by reducing their oil imports or that they can achieve greater energy security by blocking imports from a region of the world, said al-Naimi. He said oil is traded on the global markets, and even if a country has no imports it will cost whatever the international market dictates.
President Bush in his State of the Union Address pledged to increase development of alternative fuels with a goal of reducing U.S. oil imports from the Middle East by 75 percent. Bodman reiterated that goal.