* Saudi oil minister Naimi says $100/bbl is fair price for
* Naimi: OPEC should keep its 30-mln-bpd output cap
unchanged at June meet
(Adds more details, context)
By Meeyoung Cho and Jane Chung
SEOUL, May 12 Top global oil exporter Saudi
Arabia will step in to cover any potential shortage arising from
the Ukraine crisis, its oil minister said on Monday
Saudi Arabia, the only oil producer which can significantly
alter output in response to changing demand, has in the past two
years played the leading role in cushioning against supply
disruptions from Libya, Nigeria, Iraq and South Sudan.
Russia, whose output has almost doubled over the past 15
years to more than Saudi Arabia's, has always pumped at full
stretch. It has irked Riyadh several times by first agreeing to
cooperate in output policy, but then doing very little to reduce
Riyadh feels the need to trumpet its unique supply role at a
time of soaring U.S. output due to the shale boom, which has
prompted politicians there to call for an end to the era of
dependence on Middle East oil and the naval protection of sea
routes in the region.
"We are willing to supply any shortage which may arise,"
said Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi. He said the kingdom's
current output is around 9.6 million barrels per day (bpd),
while it has a capacity of 12.5 million bpd.
Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula and
violence in eastern Ukraine have rattled oil markets, keeping
benchmark Brent futures near $108 a barrel after hitting
$112.39 on March 3, the highest this year.
Naimi said that both Saudi Arabia and the Organization of
the Petroleum Exporting Countries would meet any additional
demand for oil.
"Wherever demand is needed, we and other OPEC members will
supply," he said.
Speaking on the sidelines of a conference in Seoul, Naimi
also said $100 a barrel was a fair price for oil.
"One-hundred dollars is a fair price for everybody -
consumers, producers, oil companies," he said. "It's a fair
price. It's a good price."
NO REASON FOR CHANGE IN VIENNA
Naimi said OPEC should maintain its current output cap of 30
million bpd when it comes up for review at the group's meeting
on June 11 in Vienna.
"Supply is highly sufficient, demand is great and the market
is fairly stable," Naimi said.
"There is no reason for a change. Absolutely no reason."
OPEC faces the problem of accommodating rapidly rising oil
output from Iran and Iraq, both aiming to restore full output
after sanctions and civil strife.
OPEC's No.2 and No.3 producers respectively feel they are
special cases because of production lost to sanctions - Iraq
over decades under Saddam Hussein up to 2003 and Iran over the
past two years for its nuclear programme.
But Naimi ruled out any plans for Saudi Arabia to adjust
output to make way for others.
"People like our oil - why reduce?" he said, when asked if
the kingdom would cut production to accommodate rising output
from other producers.
Naimi also said that total global oil demand was steady.
"Don't worry about individual countries - look at the
total," he said.
OPEC in March said world oil demand will increase more than
expected in 2014, raising its prediction for a second straight
month as U.S. and European economic growth picked up.
In a monthly report, OPEC said global demand will rise by
1.14 million bpd this year, up 50,000 bpd from its previous
forecast. It also raised its 2014 projection for global demand
for OPEC's crude to 29.7 bpd, up 100,000 bpd from the previous
(Additional reporting by Sohee Kim; Writing by Manash Goswami;
Editing by Tom Hogue and William Hardy)