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Wednesday, 13 September, 2000, 11:12 GMT 12:12 UK
Protester hits Opec website
Opec.org website
The protest message as it appeared at the foot of the Opec website's opening page
The website of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries was taken offline overnight after a protester angry about soaring oil prices posted a message on its opening page.


We really need to focus on the poverty stricken countries who don't even have enough money for aspirin

Protester
The message urged Opec members to act over the price of crude oil.

It said: "I think I speak for everyone out there when I say you guys need to get your collective asses in gear with the price of crude.

"We really need to focus on the poverty-stricken countries who don't even have enough money for aspirin, let alone exorbidant (sic) prices for heating oil."

The message was attributed to a person or group calling themselves "fluxnyne".

Apart from the "graffiti", the website appeared to work normally, suggesting there was no attempt to undermine the site by a hacker.

Silence

Opec has not commented on the attack on its site, or why www.opec.org was taken offline.

Notification of the posted message was made to Attrition.org, a website that monitors and logs internet vandalism.

Attrition said similar action had been taken against the organisation's website in June.

Opec has been under the spotlight in recent weeks as production restrictions by its members have resulted in world oil prices rocketing, threatening a global recession.

Blame

Opec says it is trying to achieve its target price of $25 a barrel, but the price has soared to more than $34.

Some of its members have suggested the real reason why consumers are suffering high prices - particularly as regards petrol and diesel - is the tax policies of Western countries.

But Western governments have turned the argument back on the oil producers, saying fuel duty rates have not changed recently and that the current price escalation is solely the result of Opec's actions.

Even though Opec members agreed last weekend to increase production from 1 October, oil prices have remained high.

Opec president Ali Rodriguez said the world could be facing a serious oil crisis.

He said output could not be raised indefinitely as some producers were already operating at, or close to, full capacity.

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