A meeting to set a higher level of oil production will be held in "the next few days," according to a leading Saudi official.
The official, Abdul Hadi Taher, governor of the Saudi state oil company Petrolmin,said Monday that the announced temporary increase in Saudi oil production might not reach one million barrels a day. A Western specialist on Saudi oil here said, "We're talking about a half a million to a million barrels a day. Nothing less was up for consideration."
Last month, prior to the Geneva meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, the U.S. government sent a message to Saudi leaders requesting a million-barrel-a-day increase, diplomats here said. Since 1973, Saudi Arabia has maintained a ceiling -- lifted on a temporary basis only twice -- of 8.5 million barrels a day.
Although "financial requirements" were cited as the reason for the production increase, most Western embassy officials here suggested that a more likely motivation was Saudi satisfaction with the oil-import ceilings agreed last week at the Tokyo economic summit.
U.S. Under-secretary of State Richard Cooper arrived in Riyadh Monday to explain the Tokyo agreements.
[The Jordanian daily newspaper Aldestour today described the Saudi increase as a goodwill gesture toward the industrial countries, particularly the United States and President Carter, Reuter news service reported.]
Unlike an earlier production increase this year, the latest boost will mean additional oil for the four U.S.-based- companies that make up the Armaco consortium.
Taher said the new production increase would be divided among Petromin and the Aramco companies [Exxon. Socal, Texaco and Mobil].