RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – Saudi Arabia's oil reserves, the world's largest, could increase by almost 77 percent to top 461 billion barrels in a few years, the nation's oil minister said Sunday.
"There are big chances to increase the kingdom's produceable oil reserves by 200 billion barrels," Ali Naimi (search) said in a statement issued after he inaugurated new oil fields in eastern Saudi Arabia. "This will come either through new discoveries or through increasing production from known deposits."
Saudi Arabia says its registered reserves amount to 261 billion barrels.
Naimi reiterated promises to continue meeting consumer demand for world crude.
"The kingdom is keen to ensure a balance between supply and demand and the stability of the market ... so that producers benefit and consumers do not lose," the official Saudi News Agency quoted him as saying.
The newly inaugurated Qatif Producing Plants (search), operated by the Saudi national oil giant Aramco (search), is believed to have a capacity of 800,000 barrels per day. The plants will also provide 370 million standard cubic feet (10 million cubic meters) of associated gas.
The onshore part of the field has the capacity to provide 500,000 daily barrels of Arabian light crude, the statement said.
The new offshore Abu-Sa'fah field contains an estimated 6.1 billion barrels of oil reserves and will produce 300,000 bpd of Arabian medium crude.
Naimi has said the kingdom plans to increase its oil production capacity to 12.5 million bpd from the current 11 million over the next few years. The desert kingdom sits on a quarter of the world's proven oil reserves.