Analysts said the Saudis were lobbying other OPEC members to boost production to help prevent a Western economic downturn that would stifle oil demand.
Crude-oil futures prices were mixed yesterday. The September contract for West Texas intermediate, the U.S. bench-mark grade of crude, closed at $26.46 per 42-gallon barrel, 4 cents above Tuesday's close. Crude futures for later months were mixed on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Meanwhile, U.S. Energy Secretary James D. Watkins outlined oil-production and conservation proposals that he said by the end of this year could replace up to 550,000 barrels a day, or 90 percent of the U.S. supplies lost because of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.
The United States imported about 4 percent of its oil from the two countries.
Watkins said there was no indication that President Bush would relax rules on offshore drilling because of the crisis. The secretary said the government was continuing to consider whether the nation's 587 million-barrel Strategic Petroleum Reserve should be tapped.
Watkins said the world had ample oil on hand, even though the market was being denied 4.2 million barrels each day from Kuwait and Iraq.
Among other suggestions, Watkins said oil production could be increased on Alaska's North Slope by 50,000 barrels a day and at the Elk Hills, Calif., Naval Petroleum Reserve by 5,000 barrels a day.
He said that if utilities switched from oil to other fuels, the United States could save 100,000 barrels a day. That could require relaxed environmental regulations.
If ethanol-producing facilities, now running at 80 percent of capacity, were run at full speed, the additional gasohol could replace 10,000 barrels of oil per day.
The secretary also offered conservation proposals. "We must begin to get Americans, without changing their lifestyles, to begin reducing consumption," he said.
Watkins estimated that:
* Operating automobiles at proper tire pressures would save 100,000 barrels of oil a day because of improved gas mileage. He said the department planned a campaign to have service stations make the point to customers.
* Driving at posted speed limits or slower would save 50,000 barrels daily.
* 40,000 barrels daily would be saved if only 20 percent of families with two cars used the more efficient vehicle. More than half of U.S. households have two or more cars.
* Increased use of carpools could save 90,000 barrels a day.