“U.S.: Oil production has not met demand”

from CNN

June 21, 2008

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (CNN) — Oil prices are hitting record highs because production has not kept pace with increasing demands, U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman told reporters Saturday.

“All nations must be better at conservation, and the U.S. is at the top of that list,” said Bodman, who is attending a international meeting of oil producing and consuming nations focusing on high oil prices in Saudi Arabia Sunday.

While some have blamed speculators for driving up oil prices, Bodman said he did not believe they are the cause.

Since 2003, he said, global demand for oil has increased because of industry in China, India and the Middle East. But from 2005 to 2007, there was very little increase in supply.

Nations need an additional supply of energy to market, whether that energy is nuclear, coal, fossil fuels, solar or wind power, Bodman said.

But, “we spent 30 years digging ourselves into this hole,” he said. “It won’t be solved soon.”

He said so far at the meeting, he has not seen a “magic bullet” to solve the problem of high oil prices. But Bodman said what he’d like to see is an increase in the oil inventory, saying more inventory and capacity is needed.

A key adviser to Saudi Arabia‘s oil minister told CNN in an exclusive interview on Friday that a number of factors, including speculators and currency fluctuations, are to blame for rising oil prices.

“We need stability,” said Dr. Ibrahim al Muhanna, adding that Saudi Arabia would like to see producers, consumers and distributors cooperate.

Saudi Arabia has agreed to increase its oil output by 200,000 barrels a day, officials said.

Bodman said President Bush is concerned about the price of oil, saying he brings up the subject with the Department of Energy nearly every day. He said he meets several times a week with Bush, and the two discuss the issue as well.

On Wednesday, Bush asked Congress to permit drilling for oil in deep water off the U.S. coast to combat rising oil prices. He also renewed his demand that Congress allow oil drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, clear the way for more refineries and encourage efforts to recover oil from shale in areas like the Green River Basin, which encompasses parts of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.

“In the short run, the American economy will continue to rely largely on oil, and that means we need to increase supply here at home,” Bush said in a Rose Garden statement.