Deora to participate in oil producers-consumers meet in Jeddah

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New Delhi, Jun 21 (UNI) Aiming to grapple with record high global crude oil prices, which have doubled over the past year, Petroleum Minister Murli Deora and Finance Minister P Chidambaram will represent India at a meeting of the world's top oil producers and consumers to be held tomorrow at Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.

As many as 38 countries, including the US, the UK and China, four international organisations and 30 oil companies have agreed to attend the conference, at which British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will give an address.

The conference seeks to identify the causes and consequences of the recent price behaviour and suggest areas of improvement for the efficient operation of the oil market.

Mr Deora is expected to urge the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to raise their output to cool prices that have touched 140 dollars a barrel.

The skyrocketing price rise has threatened the financial health of the oil marketing companies and economic growth of the import-dependent economies such as India.

Mr Deora's visit is in response to an invitation from Saudi Arabian Minister for Petroleum and Minerals Ali-al-Naimi to have ''frank and honest'' discussions on the current state of world petroleum markets and unprecedented volatility.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, is widely expected to raise its production.

However, OPEC President Chakib Khelil slammed consumer pressure for a production increase to take pressure off soaring prices.

''To ask the oil producers to increase their output is illogical and irrational,'' Khelil was quoted as saying today by the Algerian news service APS.

The Indian government recently raised prices of petrol by Rs 5 a litre, diesel by Rs 3 a litre and domestic LPG by Rs 50 per cylinder to offset the rising under-recoveries of the oil marketing companies.

The high oil prices have caused inflation to mount to a record 13 year high at 11.05 per cent for the week ended June 7.

Asian countries account for about 40 per cent of recent growth in global oil consumption.

UNI SBA PDT RAI1901

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