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BusinessWeek: Saudi can’t pump over 12 mln bpd by 2010

Saudi Arabia will not be able to pump more than 12 million barrels per day (bpd) by 2010, and its sustainable production level will be only 10.4 million bpd, the BusinessWeek magazine reported. The magazine cited a field-by-field breakdown of output it obtained from an oil industry executive.

Saudi, the world’s biggest exporter, says it is on track to boost capacity to 12.5 million bpd by the end of next year and said last month it was ready to add another 2.5 million bpd in the coming years in a bid to tame roaring prices fuelled in part by growing fears over limited global supplies. “The detailed document, obtained from a person with access to Saudi oil officials, suggests that Saudi Aramco will be limited to sustained production of just 12 million barrels a day in 2010, and will be able to maintain that volume only for short, temporary periods such as emergencies,” BusinessWeek reported.

“Then it will scale back to a sustainable production level of about 10.4 million barrels a day,” it said in an online article dated July 10. Speculation over Saudi Arabia’s ability to increase production, and to keep output at higher levels, has grown in recent years as the kingdom’s mammoth decades-old fields begin to age, although the Saudis maintain they have plenty of crude in the ground. The increased capacity is part of the kingdom’s policy to maintain idle capacity of around 1.5-2.0 million bpd to ensure it can quickly meet any emergency shortages and is not necessarily intended to be used on a long-term basis.

Saudi Arabia has said it will pump 9.7 million bpd this month, its highest rate in over three decades and 550,000 bpd more than in May, and pledged to keep pumping at that level for the rest of the year if customers demand the extra oil. Below is a breakdown of the country’s output capacity by different types of crudes in thousands of barrels per day, as BusinessWeek estimated. (Reuters)