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Wed 3 Mar 2004 04:00 AM

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Oil prices hit new high

World oil prices have hit a one year high, mainly due to a combination of concerns about stock levels in the US and instability in Venezuela.

World oil prices have hit a one year high, mainly due to a combination of concerns about stock levels in the US and instability in Venezuela. These factors helped drive the price of Brent crude in New York up to US$33.34 on Monday.

Concerns about stock levels in the US first emerged last week when a report from the government's Energy Information Administration (EIA) said that the country wasn’t storing up enough oil for the busy summer months when drivers hit the road. Venezuela is also threatening to stop sending oil to the States because the country’s president, Hugo Chavez, accuses America of supporting his opponents.

Saudi Arabia has promised to ensure that adequate supplies will remain available, but the Kingdom has yet to commit to whether it will call on OPEC to cancel plans to cut output next month. The cartel agreed to do this if oil prices remained high, which in, itself, is helping to push up prices. "It is extremely important that the market remains stable,” Saudi Arabia’s oil minister Ali al-Nuaimi told the BBC.

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