Oil output expansion plan on track

Riyadh, Nov 13 | Updated: Nov 14 2005, 05:30am hrs
Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia said on Sunday its plan to boost oil production capacity by 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) by 2009 was on track.

The oil ministry statement came in response to comments by a former top executive of state oil firm Saudi Aramco, who said Saudi Arabia may fall behind its schedule to raise output to 12.5 million bpd due to shortages of oil rigs and equipment.

The kingdom is proceeding in its current and future plans to raise production capacity as announced, to reach a production capacity of 12.5 million bpd by 2009, said the ministry statement on the Saudi Press Agency. This plan is proceeding according to the set schedule and there are no technical or financial obstacles or lack of Saudi human resources, it added.

Former Aramco executive Sadad Husseini, a key architect of Saudi energy production policy for more than a decade, told Reuters last week that the kingdom has the oil in the ground, political will and cash to ramp up output.

But, he said, a global shortage of equipment could leave Aramco two to three years behind its plan to lift capacity from 11 million bpd now. Riyadh has fast-tracked a $50 billion scheme to keep pace with booming demand and maintain up to two million bpd of oil production in reserve.