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OPEC says to raise output if oil at $100

LUANDA (Reuters) - OPEC ministers will raise output to protect the global economic recovery at a meeting in December if oil prices rise to $100 per barrel, the group’s president said on Sunday.

Jose Botelho de Vasconcelos, who is also Angola’s oil minister, said that both producers and consumers were comfortable with oil prices at between $75 and $80 per barrel and that higher prices could put a brake on the global economy.

“I think that a balanced price is always better,” Botelho de Vasconcelos said before boarding a flight to Brazil late on Sunday.

“You know that, if necessary, some countries are open to injecting more oil into the market and that will be done.”

Asked if a rise in oil prices to $100 per barrel would inevitably prompt OPEC to raise production at its December 22 meeting in Luanda, Botelho de Vasconcelos replied: “I believe so. We need to maintain the balance.”

OPEC, which controls about a third of the world’s oil production, has been holding down output since September 2008 as the financial crisis hit demand and pressured prices.

FUNDAMENTALS

Before increasing output, OPEC will first have to ensure that oil market fundamentals, in terms of supply and demand, are balanced, said Botelho de Vasconcelos, adding that oil stocks remained high while the dollar was weak.

“We know that the dollar has depreciated and that OPEC has played an extremely important role in the global economic recovery,” he said.

“We are aware that although oil stocks have been declining they are still at a certain level.”

Oil prices reached $82 last week, the highest in a year, in a rally many say was triggered by expectations of an economic recovery and a weak dollar rather than a tighter oil supply and demand balance.

OPEC’s Secretary-General Abdullah al-Badri said last week that although market fundamentals did not support the current price, the 12-member group was comfortable with oil prices at current levels -- especially compared to the price drop to near $30 late last year.

“The secretary general’s comments are welcome and I believe that they reflect well the sentiment of producing nations and consumers,” said Botelho de Vasconcelos.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil futures were around $80 a barrel on Monday.

Reporting by Henrique Almeida, editing by William Hardy

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