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    OPEC IS NO LONGER ABLE TO CONTAIN OIL PRICES

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    MEXICO, March 20, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - In late March the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) may take a decision on a new reduction of oil production by 11 member-countries of the oil cartel, Venezuelan Minister of Energy and Mines Rafael Ramirez said on Friday in Caracas.

    Simultaneously, according to the minister, the decision on cutting oil production quotas by one million barrels a day since April 1, which was taken by the cartel in February, has remained in force.

    "At our next meeting on March 31 we shall adhere to the same policy and if necessary Venezuela will support a new reduction, because we should preserve the price of our oil at a just level," the minister stressed.

    Before Rafael Ramirez made his statement, one of the representatives of the Nigerian oil industry (also a member of the cartel) said that OPEC would not allow the oil prices to rise very high.

    Venezuela, the world's fifth largest oil exporter, daily produces about 3.2 million barrels of oil and plays a prominent role in OPEC's activities.

    Yet, many experts of the oil market believe that no actions of the exporting countries can hamper the further growth in oil prices. Significant in this respect is the recent statement by the head of the oil cartel, Indonesian Purnomo Yusgiantoro. He spoke practically about the refusal to quote oil production "until the price will drop to at least 28 dollars per barrel."

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