RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – Saudi Arabia's oil minister on Sunday will address reports that the world's largest oil-producing country is set to raise production by about 500,000 barrels per day, his adviser said.
The increase would bring Saudi Arabia's oil production to 10 million barrels a day, the country's highest ever, according to reports by The New York Times and the Middle East Economic Survey, an industry publication.
Adviser Ibrahim al-Muhanna told The Associated Press on Saturday that he could not confirm the reports, but added: "Minister Ali al-Naimi will clarify this tomorrow."
Saudi Arabia has called for a meeting of oil producing and consuming countries on June 22 in the port city of Jiddah to discuss ways of dealing with soaring energy prices.
The New York Times report on Saturday, citing unnamed analysts and oil traders briefed by Saudi officials, said the production increase was to be announced following the meeting.
The Middle East Economic Survey said Friday that Saudi Arabia was considering a production increase, but did not provide a source.
The Saudis are concerned that sustained high oil prices will eventually slacken the world's appetite for oil, affecting them in the long run.
Crude prices have reached record highs, surpassing $139 per barrel on June 6 after surging nearly $11 in the biggest single-day price leap ever.
The prices had receded by Friday, with the benchmark light, sweet crude for July delivery falling $1.88 to settle at $134.86 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, July Brent crude lost $1.84 to settle at $134.25 on the ICE Futures exchange.
Meanwhile, the average national price for a gallon of regular gas in the U.S. rose to a record $4.066 Friday, from $4.06 a day earlier, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service. Diesel also set a new record, rising 0.2 cent to $4.796 a gallon.
Even with record highs in the U.S., prices remain far cheaper than in Europe and some parts of Asia. Oil-related protests have swept Europe, with fishermen staging strikes in Spain, Portugal, France, Belgium and Italy. Several Asian countries, including India, Indonesia and Malaysia, have slashed fuel subsidies, raising prices for millions of consumers and sparking demonstrations.
Wrapping up a summit in Japan on Saturday, finance ministers from the Group of Eight nations — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the U.S. — urged oil-producing nations to increase production.
The current president of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Chakib Khelil, has said that the cartel will make no new decision on production levels until its Sept. 9 meeting in Vienna. OPEC ministers often follow the lead of the Saudis when discussing whether to increase production to take the pressure off rising prices.