Saudi oil minister dismisses OPEC supply increase

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LONDON, Nov 13 (Reuters) OPEC members will not announce an increase in oil production at this weekend's Riyadh summit, Saudi Arabia's oil minister said today, suggesting oil prices are likely to stay around 100 dollars a barrel.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Ali Naimi said ''there will be absolutely no discussion'' of a production increase by heads of state or their oil ministers on short-term supply when the Riyadh meeting convenes.

''This is a summit that is dealing with strategic issues and longer views. You have seen the themes. And you will get a declaration after it. OPEC ministers are not going to meet to discuss supply and prices and the heads of state definitely are not going to discuss it,'' Naimi said.

''There is going to be discussion among the heads of state on growth, environment, reliability of supply, investment in future supplies to guarantee the integrity of the system. They are not taking about today, they are talking about the longer term view.'' Naimi said that OPEC had nothing to do with where the oil price was, but said that it was watching the market ''very carefully'' and did not rule out the possibility of an increase in production after a meeting next month.

''I cannot answer why the prices are so high. Prices are determined by a market that is influenced by many factors.

''The demand is not there, the customers are not there. I believe that no one will argue with us that inventory levels are today still within the 5-year average and in a comfortable place. We are watching that very carefully.

''You saw what we did in the last conference, we moved the ceiling up and we have no problems to move up or down to guarantee the integrity and stability of the market.'' Some analysts fear that if OPEC, which controls about 40 per cent of the world's output, does not release more supply to the market prices could surge far above 100 dollars and have a profound impact on inflation, interest rates and global growth.

Asked if he was concerned about prospects for the global economy if oil did stay pegged at 100 dollars or more a barrel, Naimi said: ''I don't like the word worried, I can be concerned. Everybody is concerned about the world economy. We are interested in making the world economy grow because prosperity ensues from that growth. We have no interest in seeing the world economy regress.

''These pessimists about the adequacy of supply and adequacy of reserves in the future, I think they are doing a lot of damage to the stability on the market.'' REUTERS SBA RAI0719

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