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Tue 15 May 2007 01:04 PM

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OPEC rejects calls to up supply

Cartel president Mohammed al-Hamli says there is no shortage of crude.

OPEC sees no shortage of crude in global markets despite consumer calls to increase supply before the summer to help boost inventories and bring down high prices.

"We think there is no shortage of crude in the market at the moment," OPEC President and United Arab Emirates Oil Minister Mohammed al-Hamli told reporters on Tuesday, when asked about calls to boost output.

"The market is in balance... and fundamentals are in good shape now. We will increase supply if there is a need to or if the market needs it."

The International Energy Agency said on Friday that the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) needed to boost output before the summer to prevent a sharp decline in consumer nation inventories.

The IEA, adviser to 26 industrialised nations, has urged OPEC to open the taps for the past three months.

The energy department in the U.S., the world's number one oil consumer, echoed the call on Monday.

A boost in OPEC supply would help offset the reduction in oil output from Nigeria, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said. Militant attacks have forced oil companies to shut in about a quarter of the OPEC member's 3 million barrels per day of output.

But Hamli and Kuwait's Oil Minister Sheikh Ali al-Jarrah al-Sabah, both attending an energy conference in Cairo, said there was no need for OPEC to meet again until September to discuss production policy.

OPEC, supplier more than a third of the world's crude, agreed last year to cut output by 1.7 million bpd to bolster prices.

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