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Thursday, 4 April, 2002, 11:51 GMT 12:51 UK
Opec dismisses threat of anti-US action
The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec), the cartel that controls 40% of the world's crude supply, has said it will not use oil as an economic weapon.

Maybe somebody has to act in order to correct the high level of speculation ... because this is absolutely out of our control

Ali Rodriguez
The pledge followed calls by Iraq to impose an oil embargo against the US in retaliation for Washington's perceived bias towards Israel in the conflict with Palestinians.

But Opec members have said they have no intention of reinstating the 1973 embargo which led to widespread economic chaos.

"The organisation did not receive until now any concrete proposal to use oil as a weapon," Opec secretary general Ali Rodriguez told the BBC.

He also said the cartel had no control over the current rise in oil prices, which have risen by about $6 a barrel to $27 in recent weeks as Middle East tensions have risen.

Speculation bubble

Mr Rodriguez said the price rise had little to do with Opec.

"Maybe somebody has to act in order to correct the high level of speculation... because this is absolutely out of our control," he said.

If the price rise had come about because of a shortage of supply, Mr Rodriguez said Opec would act.

"We have to wait and see the situation because if we increase production now and the situation returns to normal maybe we can face a collapse of prices."

In an interview with Spanish radio Intereconomia, Mr Rodriguez also said Opec had no plans to hold any extraordinary meeting, ahead of the one scheduled for June, to discuss the spike in oil prices.

Benchmark Brent crude was selling for $27.36 a barrel on Thursday after closing at $27.27 on Wednesday evening.

Opec Secretary General Ali Rodriguez
"The organisation did not recieve until now any concrete proposal to use oil as a weapon."
See also:

04 Apr 02 | Middle East
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02 Apr 02 | Business
Oil surges on Iraqi supply threat
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