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Last Updated: Monday, 4 April, 2005, 20:46 GMT 21:46 UK
Profit-takers knock oil off highs
Oil traders in New York
US oil prices have surged 33% this year with lots of speculative buying
Oil prices have closed lower on a bout of profit-taking, but remain strong as producer cartel Opec discusses the possibility of raising output.

In the US, oil for delivery in May closed 26 cents lower at $57.01 a barrel after hitting a record price of $58.28 per barrel in early trade.

UK Brent crude futures ended at $56.35 down from earlier highs of $57.65.

Prices have surged on worries over US refining capacity and forecasts that prices could exceed $100.

Opec's president said consultations had begun with members on raising output by 500,000 barrels a day.

Gathering consensus

Indonesian Oil Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said he had not been contacted yet, but would support the proposed increase.
US crude oil futures

Qatar and Kuwait have also said they would support an increase.

Nigeria's presidential adviser on petroleum, Edmund Daukoru, thought a decision would be made in 10-14 days if prices stayed above $55.

The chance of a rise in supply had been left open at the last Opec meeting.


"We had suspended [discussions] for a period of time because of the decline in prices," Opec President Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahd al-Sabah said.

"But now the reality of prices requires that we once again undertake communications for the purpose of consultations with the fellow Opec oil ministers... pertaining to the 500,000 barrel per day hike."

Opec last met in mid-March when it decided to raise oil production by 500,000 barrels a day.

At the time, it left open the possibility of raising production by the same amount between April and June. But this could now be brought forward.

Oil prices were boosted by a Goldman Sachs report on Thursday which said oil prices could enter a "super-spike", rising toward $105.

In addition, a power failure at Venezuela's large Amuay oil refinery on Thursday meant the plant had to shut its processing units, reducing oil supplies.

Oil prices surge to new records
01 Apr 05 |  Business
Oil prices up over petrol worries
31 Mar 05 |  Business

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