updated 9/28/2004 9:57:58 AM ET 2004-09-28T13:57:58

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, will raise production capacity from 9.5 million barrels a day to 11 million barrels in an attempt to rein in prices that topped $50 a barrel for the first time, the Oil Ministry said Tuesday.

By increasing capacity, Saudi Arabia will be able to raise production when it wants. A Saudi oil ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the kingdom would increase production, “depending on demand.”

Oil Minister Ali Naimi announced that the capacity increase would come into effect in the next few weeks, using fields where production has just begun.

“The fields of Abu Safa and al-Qatif, which have just started production, will be used to increase the kingdom’s production capacity in the coming few weeks to 11 million barrels per day,” Naimi said in a statement.

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