Kuwait 'ready' to fill Libyan oil gap

On The Wires: As concerns over oil supply remain during the Middle East unrest Kuwait today said it stood ready to fill any supply gap left by the Libyan conflict.

Powered by automated translation

Kuwait is ready to supply more crude to global markets if they are needed to help offset a shortfall in exports caused by the conflict in Libya, Kuwait Petroleum's top official said.

"We're ready to supply more. So far we haven't been asked," Chief Executive Officer Farouk Al-Zanki said at a conference in Kuwait City today. Kuwait is pumping "two and something" million barrels of crude a day, in line with its Opec production quota, he said.

Unrest in the Middle East and North Africa may keep oil prices high for several months though Kuwait sees "no significant supply disruptions" in world markets, Al-Zanki said. Crude prices are too high and "worrying," and Kuwait wants to see prices at $90 to $100 a barrel, he said.

Crude rose 17 per cent last quarter to $106.72 a barrel in New York, as fighting in Libya curbed exports and a March 11 earthquake and tsunami knocked nuclear power plants offline and released radiation.

Members of Opec stepped in to fill the gap left in shipments from Libya, the United Arab Emirates' governor for the group Ali Al Yabhouni said on March 15. He identified Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Angola and the UAE, as well as Kuwait, as states that made additional output capacity available.

Fighting between troops loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi and rebel forces has reduced that country's oil exports to a "trickle," according to the International Energy Agency. Libya pumped 390,000 barrels a day in March, down from 1.6 million barrels in January, according to Bloomberg estimates.

Kuwait, which holds about 8 per cent of global crude reserves, aims to boost its production capacity to 3.5 million barrels a day by 2015. Capacity will rise to 4 million barrels a day by 2020 and remain at that higher level for about a decade, according to the government's plans.

Al-Zanki reiterated these goals and said oil and natural gas would remain the focus of the country's energy development strategy, with renewable technologies contributing significant capacity only after the next 20 years.

Bloomberg News