14 Jan 2009

Saudi Arabia ready to lower oil output further

6:10 am on 14 January 2009

Saudi Arabia is to cut oil output again next month and is prepared to go even further to halt a collapse in prices.

Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi confirmed on Tuesday the kingdom will reduce production in February.

Current production is 8 million barrels per day since 1 January in line with a lower target set by OPEC.

It has now lowered production by 1.7 million bpd since last summer.

Members of the the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed in December to reduce their output by 2.2 million bpd.

Previous cuts since September already totalled 2 million bpd.

OPEC is due to next meet in March in Vienna and other members have said they would cut production again if necessary.

Oil rose in price by almost $US2 per barrel on Tuesday after the Saudi announcement. US crude oil futures for February rose to a high of $US39.50, up $US1.91, before easing slightly. By 1600 GMT on Tuesday, the contract was at $US38.44.

February Brent jumped to a high of $US45.59, up $US2.68.

PrIces previously reached a record of $US147.27 on 11 July, 2008.