OPEC has no plans to increase oil output
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Ministers from the oil-exporting cartel's member states gathered at the Energy Forum in Rome said they would not alter production after prices hit 117 dollars a barrel on Friday. (Story: J. Jackson)
World oil prices threatened to go even higher on Monday after members of the OPEC oil producers' cartel rejected calls to raise output, analysts said.
"Things are getting hot out there again," said Dave Ernsberger, Asia director of global energy information provider Platts.
New York's main oil futures contract, light sweet crude for delivery in May, was eight cents lower at 116.61 dollars a barrel after closing at a record 116.69 dollars on Friday at the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The contract earlier struck an all-time peak of 117.05 dollars.
Brent North Sea crude for June delivery was a cent lower at 113.91 dollars a barrel after closing at a record 113.92 dollars on Friday in London. The contract had earlier reached an intraday high of 114.22 dollars.
Over the past week, the New York contract has risen about seven dollars and Brent has climbed by more than 5.50 dollars, boosted by a weaker US currency and supply worries.
Ernsberger said prices will likely shoot even higher in the wake of weekend comments by ministers of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The cartel produces about 40 percent of the world's oil.
"No need" for increased production
The OPEC president, Chakib Khelil, said there was no need for an immediate increase in crude production because there is a balance between supply and demand.
Saudi Arabia's oil minister was quoted as saying there was no need "to get worked up" and call for more oil to be put on the market. Saudi Arabia is the cartel's number one producer.
Separately, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of OPEC's number two producer Iran, was quoted Saturday as saying oil is priced too low and "should find its real value".
The comments "raise the stakes for the traders yet another notch," Ernsberger said, emphasising that this was his personal opinion.
"It's unfathomable to almost everybody why OPEC wouldn't produce as much as it could."
He said additional price support is coming from signs that gasoline demand in the United States is better than expected ahead of the summer driving season, when many Americans take to the highways for holidays.
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