From Freep (FREE PRESS NEWS SERVICES):
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia’s leaders said Friday they see no reason to increase oil production until customers demand it, apparently rebuffing President George W. Bush amid soaring U.S. gasoline prices.
It was Bush’s second personal appeal this year to King Abdullah, head of the monarchy that rules this desert kingdom that is a longtime prime U.S. ally and the world’s largest oil exporter.
Saudi officials maintained their position that they’ll only pump more oil when asked to by buyers, something they say isn’t happening now, the president’s national security adviser said.
“Saudi Arabia does not have customers that are making requests for oil that they are not able to satisfy,” Stephen Hadley said on a day when oil prices rose above $127 a barrel, a record high.
The Saudi oil minister, Ali al-Naimi, did say the kingdom had decided May 10 to raise production by 300,000 barrels at the request of customers. He said that increase — to 9.45 million barrels a day by June — is sufficient.
The increase followed a decline in April from the 13 members of OPEC by about 390,000 barrels a day, according to a report this week from OPEC, which pumps more than 40% of the world’s oil.
Analysts called the increase a token move.
When Bush ran for president in 2000, he criticized the Clinton administration for high fuel prices and said the president must “jawbone” oil-producing nations and persuade them to drop rates. At that time, oil was less than a quarter what it is now.