Saudi's Naimi says talk of OPEC output hike premature

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KUWAIT, Nov 11 (Reuters) Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said on Sunday that it was premature to talk about an OPEC increase in oil output but group members would discuss the issue at an upcoming meeting. OPEC heads of state are set to meet in Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil producer, on Nov. 17 and 18, with oil prices at record highs near 0 a barrel.

''This is premature but we will discuss the issue when we meet,'' Naimi told reporters at the airport in Kuwait, after discussions with his Kuwaiti counterpart.

''Gulf producers do not control the market,'' he said. ''Gulf states are trying as much as they can to secure supplies and are trying to achieve market stability but prices set by the market.'' OPEC, source of more than a third of the world's oil, agreed in September to raise production by 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) from Nov. 1 in a gesture to consumer countries worried about soaring prices.

But a Reuters survey showed the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries raised oil production in October in advance of the formal deal to lift supply.

OPEC oil ministers have repeatedly said that high prices are the result of geopolitics and a lack of refining capacity rather than low supplies.

Kuwait's acting oil minister Mohammad al-Olaim said after meeting Naimi on Sunday that OPEC may consider increasing output if the markets need it.

''OPEC will not hestitate to exercise its responsibilities,'' he told reporters at the airport in Kuwait after meeting Naimi.

Asked if this would include a possible output increase, he said, ''If the market requires it and according to market principles.'' Naimi is on a tour of several countries including Bahrain to coordinate ahead of the Riyadh summit, Olaim said.


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