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Saudi Arabia has no plans to push oil capacity to 15 million bpd: minister

Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi listens to journalist during an OPEC meeting in Vienna December 12, 2012. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader
Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi listens to journalist during an OPEC meeting in Vienna December 12, 2012. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's energy minister said on Tuesday the kingdom has no plans to dramatically expand its oil production capacity to 15 million barrels per day, dispelling a suggestion put forth by a member of his country's royal family.

Ali al-Naimi said his country will be "lucky to go past" its current oil production of about 9 million barrels per day (bpd) by 2020, as new petroleum production from other countries comes into the global market.

"Supplies are coming from everywhere," Naimi said during a speech on energy markets at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "And we are happy for that. It's coming from all over."

Saudi Prince Turki al Faisal, chairman of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, caused a stir among oil analysts last week.

Speaking at Harvard University, the prince said the "production management scheme" of the OPEC heavyweight was set to raise total capacity to 15 million barrels per day, creating an export potential of 10 million bpd by 2020.

Naimi countered, saying Saudi Arabia "has no plans" to dramatically boost capacity to 15 million bpd.

"He may be thinking about we have ability to do that," Naimi said, "not that we're going to do it, but that Saudi Arabia is capable of building capacity to 15," million bpd.

The need to build facilities or build wells to produce 15 million bpd "is not there," Naimi said, as new supplies come to market from new places.

Supplies are coming from the United States, Iraq, the Caspian area, Brazil, and Africa, Naimi said. Looking ahead, he said there was "no call" for Saudi Arabia to go past 11 million bpd or 11.5 bpd of oil production by 2030 or 2040.

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner and Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by Ros Krasny, Gerald E. McCormick and Andrew Hay)

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