Dubai, United Arab Emirates — Saudi Arabia has started pumping the extra oil it had promised earlier this month in an effort to ease fuel prices, an official from an OPEC country said Saturday.
Saudi Arabia's national oil company Aramco raised production this week, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. He did not say how much more oil the kingdom was pumping, but the Saudis said early this month they would increase oil output by 500,000 barrels a day.
Oil traders in Asia confirmed they had been told to expect more Saudi oil in August, when the additional oil would reach the markets.
The Saudi move comes despite criticism from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and a lack of consensus among members.
On Friday, OPEC President Ali Rodriguez had said Saudi Arabia would not increase current output unless it got approval from OPEC partners. Rodriguez has said he and other OPEC counterparts felt the time was not ripe for an immediate increase.
Rodriguez, also Venezuela's oil minister, was in Iran on Saturday as part of a tour of OPEC countries. In the meetings, the Iranian president and other officials called for OPEC producers to restrain from pumping more oil, saying the cartel needs to remain united and firm if it is to remain effective.
"This is not possible unless all members look toward the interests of producing nations," Iranian President Mohammad Khatami told Rodriguez, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported. Khatami said all OPEC members must abide by the cartel's decisions.