WASHINGTON, Dec. 4 /CNW/ -- U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said
today that he has asked OPEC ministers to consider the below-normal oil
inventories held by Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development
nations when they decide this week whether to increase oil production.
"I have asked ministers to take a look it, and they have said they will
do so," Bodman told reporters at a Platts Energy Podium in Washington. "As to
what decision they make, that is up to them, not to me."
Bodman acknowledged, however, that any decision by OPEC to increase
production at its meeting in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday would help alleviate the
tight market caused partly by low oil inventories.
OPEC ministers have suggested that the recent decline in oil prices may
indicate the world market does not need additional production. But Bodman said
he believes oil prices "are still very high," and continued to encourage
suppliers to keep markets well supplied.
Separately, the secretary said a U.S. government report released Monday
that concluded Iran halted work on a suspected nuclear weapons program four
years ago is unlikely to lead to lower oil prices by easing market concerns
over potential supply disruptions if the United Nations pursues further
sanctions against Iran.
Bodman also said he is not concerned about suggestions by some OPEC
ministers that oil prices should be set in euros rather than dollars because
of the decline in the dollar's value. "I have a lot of things to worry about,
and that's not one of them," he said.
He expressed surprise at the continued resilience of the U.S. economy in
the face of high oil prices, and said he believed the reason is the country is
more service-oriented, and less dependent on oil, than it was previously.
Still, he called the effect of high oil prices on the U.S. economy "a
legitimate concern," adding they "will do some damage as we look at the
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