Ch�z: Venezuela will not increase oil production

Labeling current world oil prices as 'fair' rather than high, Venezuelan President Hugo Ch�z said on Tuesday his country will not increase oil production beyond the level approved by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries last month. Ch�z�s remarks came on the heels of reports that Saudi Arabia is ready to jack up its oil production by 500,000 b/d in an effort to lower oil prices to about $25/bbl.


CARACAS�Labeling current world oil prices as "fair" rather than high, Venezuelan President Hugo Ch�z said on Tuesday his country will not increase oil production beyond the level approved by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries last month. Ch�z�s remarks came on the heels of reports that Saudi Arabia is ready to jack up its oil production by 500,000 b/d in an effort to lower oil prices to about $25/bbl.

The Venezuelan leader said he held telephone conversations Tuesday with the heads of state of OPEC members Saudi Arabia, Algeria, and Nigeria regarding the need to continue "strengthening" OPEC. He said he also spoke with Mexico�s President-elect Vicente Fox.

Last month, OPEC members agreed to increase their oil production by 708,000 b/d to a combined 25.4 million b/d in an attempt to reduce oil prices that were regularly exceeding $30/bbl. As a result, Venezuela already has boosted its output by 81,000 b/d.

Responding to reports that OPEC member states have been urged again to increase oil production to cool overheated oil prices, Ch�z said, "No, no, we are not going to do that. We must strengthen OPEC." He also urged other OPEC members not to bow to international pressures to boost oil output, which he termed "blackmail."

A high-level Venezuelan mission led by Energy and Mines Minister Al�odr�ez Araque is preparing to begin a tour of all OPEC member countries, said Ch�z. The tour is designed mainly to prepare for the organization�s upcoming heads of state conference, scheduled to be held in Caracas Sept. 28-29.

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