UPDATE 1-OPEC will increase output to keep oil prices affordable -NNPC chief

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LAGOS, June 30 (Reuters) - OPEC will increase production to keep oil prices at a level customers can afford, Nigeria’s NNPC chief and national representative to OPEC Mele Kyari said on Wednesday.

“The only way to pull down the price is to increase the production, for you to increase the supply,” Kyari said during an interview on local news channel Arise TV. “And that is what is going to happen. OPEC is going to intervene.”

Oil prices have gained nearly 50% since January, with Brent crude trading at just under $75 per barrel on Wednesday.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, known as OPEC+, is already returning 2.1 million barrels per day (bpd) to the market from May through July as part of a plan to gradually unwind last year’s record oil output curbs.

The group is meeting on Thursday, and sources have told Reuters it is discussing a further easing of output cuts, but had not yet decided on the exact volume to bring back.

Rising crude prices are a mixed blessing for Nigeria, which relies on oil for the bulk of its foreign exchange and roughly half its budget. But it is also paying costly gasoline subsidies that become more expensive as fuel prices rise. (Reporting by Libby George; editing by Jason Neely)