OPEC to boost oil production

ROME, Italy. OPEC's secretary-general said Tuesday there are plans to boost oil production target capacity by 5 million barrels a day by 2012.
OPEC blames a weak dollar and speculators for soaring prices of oil, which are hitting economies worldwide.

Abdalla Salem el-Badri in separate comments in an interview with Dow Jones Newswires on the sidelines of a Rome energy forum said that members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries are planning to spend $160 billion (some €100 billion) over the next four years to boost production capacity.

The OPEC official also told reporters that issues of supply and demand were being discussed at the forum but that he didn't expect any agreement on whether prices are too high or too low. El-Badri blamed a weak dollar and speculators for soaring prices of petroleum, which are taking a heavy toll on economies worldwide.

In the interview, el-Badri said members were investing to increase both production and refining capacity.

"Right now, we have 120 projects worth $160 billion just to increase capacity by 5 million to 2012," he said, referring to production.

El-Badri also said in the interview that OPEC countries plan to invest about $50 billion (€31.45 billion) to boost refining capacity by about 3 million barrels a day.

Oil prices steadied Tuesday in Asia near the previous session's record close above US$117 a barrel, supported by concerns about instability in crude supplies from some producers.

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