January 14, 2012 / 9:36 AM / 6 years ago

UPDATE 1-Saudi ready to meet a rise in oil demand- Naimi

(Adds quotes, background)

DHAHRAN, Saudi Arabia, Jan 14 (Reuters) - Top oil producer Saudi Arabia is ready to meet any increase in consumer countries’ demand for crude oil, oil minister Ali al-Naimi told reporters on Saturday.

Saudi Arabia is “always obliged” to meet demand, Naimi said when asked whether the kingdom has enough spare capacity to cover demand in light of possible oil sanctions by the West on Iran’s crude oil sales.

“Whatever customers want,” he said, without making a reference to the possible sanctions on OPEC-member Iran.

The kingdom, now pumping just under a record rate of 10 million barrels per day (bpd), has poured billions of dollars into its vast oil fields, which on paper should ensure it has the ability to ramp up to 12.5 million bpd.

Some analysts have cast doubts over Saudi Arabia’s ability to sustain untested production levels of over 10 million bpd.

“We don’t take experts’ view into consideration. They can doubt as they want. Do you believe us or you believe skeptics? We have said many times that we meet customers’ demand. Period,” said Naimi. (Reporting by Reem Shamseddine; Writing by Amena Bakr, editing by Jane Baird)

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