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Sun 10 Jan 2010 08:25 PM

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Saudi investments to stabilise oil price - Fin Min

Kingdom spending billions of dollars to build refineries at home and abroad.

Saudi Arabia will continue investing in its oil sector to help stabilise crude prices at a level acceptable to both consuming and producing nations, its finance minister said on Sunday.

Speaking at a meeting attended by China's trade minister and business officials, Ibrahim al Assaf said: "The Kingdom is continuing with its big efforts to achieve stability in the international oil markets."

According to a transcript of his speech, he said: "This is through big investments to increase production and refining capacity to maintain balanced and acceptable prices by both producers and consumers."

Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia completed a huge crude capacity expansion programme last year to boost ouptut capacity to 12.5 million barrels per day (bpd).

OPEC's most influential member has around 4.5 million bpd of spare capacity, with production at around 8 million bpd.

That is well above the 1.5 to 2 million bpd the kingdom aims to keep to deal with surprise outages in global oil output.

The kingdom is also investing billions of dollars in refineries at home and abroad.

US crude prices settled at $82.75 a barrel on Friday as a prolonged cold snap in key heating hubs in Europe and northeastern United States boosted demand for heating oil.

Last month, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah said $75 to $80 a barrel was a fair price for oil.

OPEC decided to leave oil supply targets unchanged when it met in December, content with an oil price then at $72 to $75 a barrel. (Reuters)

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