Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, may return to its role of balancing oil supply and demand after the recovery of the global market, the country's energy minister indicated in comments published on Wednesday.
"Despite the surplus in global oil production and lower prices, the focus of attention remains on countries such as Saudi Arabia which, due to its strategic importance, will be expected to balance supply and demand once market conditions recover," Energy Minister Khalid Al Falih said in the statement on the website of state oil company Saudi Aramco.
"The kingdom's oil policies are rooted in responsibility, and Saudi Arabia is seeking to maintain that balance while also giving heed to moderate prices for producers and consumers," Falih said.
He made the comments in the US where he is accompanying Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Saudi Arabia, OPEC's de-facto leader, effectively abandoned its swing producer role in 2014 when it led OPEC's policy shift by refusing to cut production to support oil prices and allow the market to balance itself without interference.
Oil has risen to $50 a barrel, up 85 percent from a 12-year low reached in January as supply outages in Nigeria and Canada reduced the need to prop up prices. At its most recent meeting, in June, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) made no change to its pump-at-will output policy.
On Wednesday, the Houston Chronicle newspaper quoted Falih as saying the global supply glut "has disappeared".
"The question now is how fast you will work off the global inventory overhang," Falih told the newspaper.
"That will remain to put a cap on the rate at which oil prices recover. We just have to wait for the second half of the year and next year to see how that works out," he added, according to the newspaper.For all the latest energy and oil news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.