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Saudi Arabia's Minister of Petroleum & Mineral Resources Ali Al-Naimi speaks at the annual IHS CERAWeek global energy conference Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
Saudi Arabia's Minister of Petroleum & Mineral Resources Ali Al-Naimi speaks at the annual IHS CERAWeek global energy conference Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

Saudi oil minister says market should handle low prices

HOUSTON (AP) — Saudi Arabia’s oil minister says production cuts to boost oil prices won’t work, and that instead the market should be allowed to work even if that forces some operators out of business.

Ali Al-Naimi said Tuesday that cutting production would mean low-cost producers like Saudi Arabia would be subsidizing higher-cost ones — an apparent reference to U.S. shale oil drillers.

Al-Naimi says the global oil glut will end, though he won’t predict when.

While rejecting production cuts as unrealistic, Al-Naimi endorses a freeze on production at current levels if major producing countries go along. The freeze idea, floated last week by Saudi Arabia, Russia, Venezuela and Qatar, faces uncertain prospects. Iran, just coming off international sanctions, wants to boost its production.

Naimi is speaking at a gathering of energy leaders in Houston.

In related news, Russia, Saudis tentatively offer to freeze oil production levels.

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