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Opec: 'Enough oil in market'

Apr 06 2008 13:33
Tehran - Opec Secretary General Abdullah al-Badri has rejected calls from oil-consuming states for a hike in the cartel's crude output, saying that non-fundamental factors were to blame for current high prices.

"At the moment there is enough oil in the market and no need to change Opec's output," al-Badri said in Tehran late on Saturday after arriving the day earlier for a three-day visit to the Islamic republic.

He blamed the "US economic recession, lack of refining capacity and depreciation of the dollar's value" for the record oil prices, according to state television.

Oil prices leapt above $106 in New York Friday with investor sentiment driven by the weak US dollar, tight energy supplies and more bad news on the US economy.

"The world's oil stockpiles are now adequate for 53 days and this shows that there is no shortage," al-Badri said at a joint press conference with Iranian oil minister Gholam Hossein Nozari.

The crude basket price of the Organisation of Petroleum-Exporting Countries (Opec) has topped the $100 mark for the first time, the cartel said last month.

But Iran, Opec's second biggest oil producing member, also strongly backed leaving the current output production ceiling unchanged.

"With the price of oil at $100 per barrel, OPEC will not have any increase or decrease in output," Nozari said.

US President George W. Bush has called on Opec and its kingpin Saudi Arabia to hike output in response to the continued strength in prices.

However the cartel - which produces 40% of the world's oil - at its last meeting in March defiantly maintained its daily output at 29.67 million barrels.

" No one can put Opec under pressure because we decide based on our interests," al-Badri said.

Nozari also said it was "unlikely" that Opec would hold an extraordinary meeting before its next scheduled gathering in September to discuss the global economic turbulence caused by the collapse of the US subprime home loan market.

Al-Badri said he had not been contacted by OPEC ministers about holding such a meeting.

- Sapa

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