Kuwait Backs OPEC Output Hike
Kuwait's Oil Minister Sheikh Saud Nasser al-Sabah said Friday he would support a reasonable hike in OPEC output at the cartel's meeting in Vienna despite there being plenty of crude on the market.
"The baseline (for the output hike) is the agreed 500,000 barrels per day. Any thing more, God knows ... we will discuss. But the increase has to be pro rata," Sheikh Saud said.
"Whether the 500,000 bpd ... will have any effect on the market, I doubt. But we will see what we can do in the meeting," Sheikh Saud told reporters before leaving for the meeting that starts on Sunday.
"I believe the hike will have a psychological impact that would serve the stability of the market. If there is a desire for the increase, we will not oppose it. We will accept it," he said.
OPEC MINISTERS TO GATHER FOR TALKS ON SOARING OIL PRICES
OPEC ministers were due to begin arriving in Vienna ahead of a weekend meeting that major oil consumers hope will help ease soaring fuel prices -- although few think oil producers can offer relief.
Venezuelan Oil Minister Ali Rodriguez, currently the 11-member group's president, and OPEC heavyweight Saudi Arabia's minister Ali al-Nuaimi will be the first to arrive Friday morning, OPEC officials said.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is forecast to agree to little more than a 500,000-barrel-a-day hike in production, judged by most analysts as insufficient to cool world markets.
The record prices have rung alarm bells around the world, and have sparked blockades and protests notably in France, while other European countries are bracing for possible unrest.
In New York Thursday, US President Bill Clinton met Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah, and said afterwards that Riyadh supported a rise in oil output to bring down soaring prices.
"I told him I was very concerned that the price of oil was too high, not just for America, but for the world," said Clinton.
The 11-member OPEC has already increased production twice this year, with little effect on prices, which have tripled since slumping to under 10 dollars a barrel last year.
OPEC countries deny that skyrocketing prices are due to production cutbacks, and say they have more to do with a slump in stock levels in Western countries which have dropped to 24-year lows. Analysts also point out that few OPEC countries have much spare capacity.
Oil prices fell sharply when trading began in London on Friday.
The price of the benchmark North Sea Brent crude for October delivery opened at 33.85 dollars a barrel, from a closing level on Thursday of 34.55 dollars -- a level not witnessed since the 1990 Gulf War.
But analysts said the slump was unlikely to change the fundamental upwards direction of prices.
"There is little point to think is going to lower down further. It is going to go high again tomorrow and it could possibly go to 40 dollars sometimes during the winter," said David Nesbitt, a broker at Prudential Bache – (AFP)
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