Department of Energy an oil industry sources in Washington said yesterday that Saudi Arabia is reducing its direct oil sales to the Arabian American Oil Co. from 200,000 to 500,000 barrels a day.
This cut to the Aramco companies-Exxon, Texaco, Standard Oil Co. of Calif., and Mobil-does not mean, however, that the Saudis intend to reduce production below their current 8.5 million barrel a day average.
Larry Goldstein of the New York-based Petroleum Industry Research Foundation said the reduction in sales to the American Aramco companies could be a political signal of dissatisfaction with U.S. policy.
Energy Department sources said that while "this could not be ruled out," the cuts in sales to Aramco appear to be linked to desires by the Saudi government to meet the needs of less developed countries that are short of oil, such as Sudan, and who have besieged the Saudis for direct sales.
Meanwhile, in Manila, a Saudi official accused developed countries of using the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries as a scapegoat for the international economic crisis.
Addressing the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Saudi Deputy Commerce Minister Youssif Hamdan said the developed countries had failed to limit their own energy consumption to avert a crisis, while causing economic problems for developing oil-producing countries such as his own.
"My country is concerned about the unjustified campaign directed at OPEC in the form of using oil prices as a scapegoat for world economic crisis," he said.
"This, no doubt, is an attempt to divert attention away from the core of the problem by putting the blame on the shoulders of the oil exporting countries."*