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[SAUDI ARABIA] Fair and stable oil prices will benefit producers and consumers, allowing global supply and demand to grow at a steady pace, Saudi Arabia's Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said on Tuesday.
While a roughly 50 per cent drop in global oil prices since June last year has helped growing economies in Asia, it had posed "difficult challenges" for many oil producers, the minister said. "Oil is a long-term business, requiring long-term plans and investment," Mr Naimi said in a speech to mark the inauguration of state oil firm Saudi Aramco's new research and development centre in Beijing. "Sudden rises or falls in the cost of oil are not welcome.... It's in all our interests to ensure stable prices." He cited China's 2008 help in calming markets when oil price spiked to US$147 a barrel.
The slide in oil prices since the middle of last year deepened after Saudi Arabia and other Opec nations refused to cut production in November in a bid to maintain market share against other competing sources of supply.
Naimi reiterated Saudi's pledge to meet oil demand in Asia. "Asian demand for oil remains strong and we are ready to supply whatever is required," he said. "Oil will retain its preeminent position and Saudi Arabia will remain the number one supplier." Mr Naimi told Reuters last week that Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest crude exporter, was producing "around 10 million" barrels per day in April, near a record high.
Saudi Arabia is seeking to deepen its oil and gas cooperation with China which has overtaken the United States as the kingdom's largest trading partner.
The country's top oil companies - Saudi Aramco and Sinopec - operate joint venture refineries in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, and Fujian, China.