RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AFP) — Saudi Oil Minister Prince Abdulaziz Ben Salman said Monday the kingdom has taken every step to secure its oil facilities and guarantee market stability amid rising regional tensions.
The US drone strike that killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani on January 3 has exacerbated fears of broader conflict in a region that has seen attacks on ships and Saudi oil facilities in the last year.
“We have taken all the possible precautions,” Prince Abdelaziz told the opening of the 2020 International Petroleum Technology Conference in the eastern Saudi city of Dhahran.
The minister said Saudi Arabia’s oil production would hit 9.77 million barrels per day in January and February.
In December, in the presence of the OPEC cartel and 10 other oil-producing countries, the kingdom announced it would cut its production in order to support prices.
Just before Saudi oil facilities were attacked in September, Saudi Arabia was pumping 9.9 million barrels per day or nearly 10 percent of world demand.
“There exists no other surer and more responsible source (of oil) than the kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Prince Abdelaziz said.
“When the kingdom’s oil facilities were attacked several months ago, we acted quickly and have maintained the stability of oil supplies and that’s what counts for consumers,” the minister said.
“We protected the world economy,” he added.
Drone and missile attacks on Saudi Aramco oil facilities in September, blamed on Iran, slashed crude production from the world’s top oil exporter by almost half.
And a string of attacks on vessels in the troubled waters of the Gulf last year, which Washington and its allies blamed on Iran, also stoked fears for the security of global supply.
Prince Abdelaziz said the September crisis “showed the Saudi oil sector’s flexibility and the Saudi leadership’s long-term strategic vision, as well as Aramco’s quality and strength.”
Saudi Aramco last month floated its shares on the stock exchange for the first time but was hit more than a week ago by a panicky sell off amid Iranian vows of retaliation for Soleimani’s killing.
“Faced with tensions that persist in our region, Saudi Arabia will continue to do what it can to guarantee the stability of oil markets,” the minister said.
© Agence France-Presse