Saudi Arabia will act to bring down oil prices, Saudi oil minister, Ali Naimi, said in the Financial Times newspaper on Thursday as concern grows that rising energy prices are hurting the world economy.
Saudi Arabia "would like to see a fair and reasonable price that will not hurt the global economic recovery, especially in emerging and developing countries", the minister wrote in a column.
While the market is "fundamentally balanced" Saudi Arabia "will use spare production capacity to supply the oil market with any additional required volumes", the minister said.
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Oil prices, despite falling on Wednesday, have risen in recent weeks, putting pressure on economies worldwide.
Oil prices fell in Asian trading on Thursday following US and European indications of support for the release of strategic oil reserves.
New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in May, shed eight cents to $105.33 per barrel in the afternoon while Brent North Sea crude for May settlement was down nine cents at $124.07.
In Paris, French Economy Minister Francois Baroin told Europe One radio on Thursday that he was "reasonably" confident that the International Energy Agency would decide in favour of the release of oil from strategic stocks.
In France, the price of fuel for vehicles has reached record levels in nominal terms and is now a significant subject in campaigning for a presidential election.