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French Version

Oil prices hit all-time record high

Oil prices raced to all-time peaks on Monday, climbing above $58 a barrel, while OPEC producers said they had begun discussing a second output rise to try to quell the market's rally. U.S. light crude for May delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange hit a nominal record of $58.28 a barrel. It later eased slightly to trade 43 cents higher on the day at $57.70.

London's Brent crude was 69 cents higher at $57.20, also just down from a new peak of $57.65 and NYMEX crude oil for September delivery - trading at a premium to the front month - hit $60.05, the first time a futures contract has topped $60.

OPEC President Sheikh Ahmed al-Fahd al-Sabah said on Monday cartel oil ministers had begun telephone consultations on possibly increasing production by a further 500,000 barrels per day to cool prices.

"If there is a decision it should be in the next two weeks. For that, if there will be any new production, it should be in May," said Sheikh Ahmed, also Kuwait's energy minister.

Prices have surged since a forecast last week by Goldman Sachs bank that oil could spike above $100 as global demand growth strains supply capacity.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries raised output limits by 500,000 bpd to 27.5 million bpd in mid-March and left room for a second rise before a June ministerial meeting if prices failed to ease below $55.

The European Commission on Monday also said it had raised its 2005 price forecast to $50.9 a barrel for Brent, up from an earlier forecast of $45.1.

In real terms, prices were still higher in the 1980s when they peaked at roughly $90 a barrel in today's money for U.S. crude, according to calculations by the International Energy Agency, using the U.S. Consumer Price Index as an inflation adjuster.

Nigerian Presidential Adviser on Petroleum Edmund Daukoru said on Sunday the increase could happen within two weeks if prices stayed above $55 for at least the next 10 to 14 days.

An OPEC delegate said on Monday the group's 10 members under formal output limits, excluding Iraq, would pump 28.1 million bpd in April, which is about 400,000 bpd above estimated March production and 600,000 bpd higher than the current ceiling.

U.S. oil prices have surged by more than 30 percent this year, with big-money speculative funds buying heavily on signs that robust demand growth in Asia's emerging economies and the United States would strain world supply.

Amman,04 11 2005
The Daily Star
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