NO OIL FOR YOU….President Bush has gone to Riyadh once again to beg the Saudis to increase oil production, and once again he’s been rebuffed. Here’s the explanation:

Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser, told reporters, “What they’re saying to us is” that “Saudi Arabia does not have customers that are making requests for oil that they are not able to satisfy,” The Associated Press reported.

That’s a lovely tautology, isn’t it? Needless to say, there’s always a price at which the demand for Saudi oil is no greater than what they happen to be putting on the market. Today it’s $127 per barrel. If they cut production in half and the price went up to $500 per barrel, they still wouldn’t be getting any requests they couldn’t satisfy.

In other words, the Saudi response was not materially different from “Piss off.” At this point, the only really interesting question is whether they’re throttling their supply because they want to or because they have to. As time goes on and prices keep going up, I’m inclining more and more toward the latter.

UPDATE: It turns out that the Saudis are increasing their production after all. The increase is only a token 300,000 barrels per day, so it’s not clear what’s really going on here. A face-saving measure for Bush? Or something else?