The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) may increase oil production in 2011 to match an expected 2 per cent increase in demand.

Speaking at the Global Economic Forum in Riyadh on 24 January, Saudi Arabia’s minister of petroleum and mineral resources, Ali al-Naimi said global oil demand could increase to 1.8 million barrels a day (b/d) from 1.5 million b/d in 2010.

The market this year will be in total equilibrium in terms of supply and demand.

Ali al-Naimi, Minister of Petroleum & Mineral Resources

“Opec’s policy, as is well known, is to meet any increase in oil demand to maintain the supply-demand balance. It is also expected that some Opec members will increase their production capacities, thus maintaining Opec’s spare capacity at approximately 6 million b/d,” he said.

Indicating that he expected oil prices to remain in the same price range as 2010, Al-Naimi said, “The market this year will be in total equilibrium in terms of supply and demand.”

“Based on these facts I expect price stability to continue at last year’s rates. The only thing I am concerned about is the upward or downward pressure of speculators, analysts and futures market investors on prices away from natural market fundamentals,” he added.