Saudi Ambassador Says Increase in Oil Production Necessary

Ambassador to the United States Prince Bandar bin Sultan issued the following statement with regard to the necessity of increasing OPEC's production ceiling:

"In the interest of maintaining the balance of supply and demand in the global oil market, Saudi Arabia believes that it is necessary for OPEC to increase the production ceiling by at least 1.5 million barrels per day. This production increase would help satisfy the continued increase in demand, especially in Asia, that is anticipated for the second half of 2004. Unfortunately, prices have reached their current level partly because the market is subject to unjustified concerns that supplies from certain oil producing countries may be disrupted.

"High oil prices have negative effects on both consuming and producing nations. We do not want to see prices that are detrimental to global economic growth. Saudi Arabia will present its case for an increase in production at the May 22-24, 2004 meeting of the International Energy Forum in Amsterdam in the Netherlands, where we hope to reach an understanding with the oil ministers of OPEC members to increase the production ceiling during next month's meeting in Beirut, Lebanon."