OPEC could increase production by 500,000 barrels per day from October 27 if the price of crude oil remains above 28 dollars per barrel for 20 successive valuations, Algerian Energy Minister Chakib Khelil said on Wednesday.
The increase in production would be in line with a regulating mechanism put in place by OPEC in March, but the minister added the responsibility for the high prices did not lay with OPEC.
"The problem ... is due to stock market speculation on petrol prices, to the high level of taxes, to stocks on the American market and especially to the attitude of American refineries to the market", he said.
Khelil estimated that a drop in demand of about one million barrels per day was expected from April 2001 and that the market risked facing overproduction that would lead to a fall in prices.
He added that OPEC members were aware of this prospect and were already calling for a balance between offer and demand to avoid a steep drop in prices.
Oil prices rose to the highest level for almost three weeks in London on Wednesday on the back of a sharp contraction in US crude stock levels.
The benchmark Brent North Sea crude oil for November delivery hit 32.65 dollars a barrel in early trading before easing to 32.53 dollars, still up markedly from 31.85 dollars at the close on Tuesday. – (AFP)
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