Will Saudi Arabia Rise Crude Capacity to 15 Million Barrels?

On Tuesday, Bloomberg reported:

Saudi Arabia plans to raise production capacity to 15 million barrels a day by 2020 from 12.5 million barrels a day now, a Saudi prince said, reviving talk of a higher internal target.

The new capacity will allow the kingdom to be able to export as much as 10 million barrels of crude a day, Prince Turki Al Faisal, 68, a former head of intelligence, said in an April 25 speech at Harvard University that was posted on the university’s website yesterday.

Few hours later, Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said there is no such plan:

Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said on Tuesday the kingdom has no plans to dramatically expand its oil production capacity to 15 million barrels per day, dispelling a suggestion put forth by a member of his country’s royal family.

Ali al-Naimi said his country will be “lucky to go past” its current oil production of about 9 million barrels per day (bpd) by 2020, as new petroleum production from other countries comes into the global market.

It will be interesting to see what analysts make of such contradictory statements, but it is important to note that Prince Turki al-Faisal does not currently hold any official position with the Saudi government. Making assertions about future government plans based on his statements would probably be inaccurate.