November 17, 2007

Venezuelan pressure to politicise the OPEC

OPEC ministers hammered out the agenda for a rare summit of the cartel this weekend, with record oil prices, the environment and Venezuelan pressure to politicise the group set for discussion. The gathering comes at a time of tension on world oil markets, with the cartel under pressure to increase its output to help calm record crude prices that threatened to breach 100 dollars a barrel for the first time last week.

Venezuelan Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez forecast that prices would soon break through the symbolic 100-dollar barrier. They are currently around 90. Ministers have ruled out any increase in output, at least until another meeting next month, and leaders are expected to focus instead on climate change, development and ensuring long-term stability of prices. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said in Caracas before leaving for the Saudi capital that OPEC should take on a stronger "political and geopolitical" role and return to its stance of the 1970s when it raised prices for consumer nations.

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