April 24, 2012 / 9:07 AM / 7 years ago

UPDATE 2-Venezuela opposes increase in OPEC output target

(Adds details on financing agreements with Japan)

* Ramirez: plenty of oil in the market

* Venezuela oil production at 3 mln bpd, below target

TOKYO/CARACAS, April 24 (Reuters) - Venezuela’s energy minister said on Tuesday that OPEC should not raise production targets when it meets in June.

“We are against it, I think there is plenty of oil available in the market,” the minister, Rafael Ramirez, said through an interpreter during a visit to Tokyo, when asked whether he was in favor of increasing targets.

“We think the oil price should be at a minimum $100 (a barrel). The reason the price is up now is because the market is reacting very nervously to the European economic crisis and the disturbing moves in the Middle East.”

Ramirez, who is also president of state oil company PDVSA, has said Venezuela disagreed with decisions by some OPEC members to boost output to offset declining exports from Iran.

He added that Venezuela has opposed Western sanctions against Iran from the start.

OPEC is scheduled to meet next on June 14 in Vienna, where it is likely to focus on quotas and production.

Venezuela’s output stood at 3 million bpd, little changed from last year, and below the government’s target of 3.5 million bpd this year, he said.

In March, Brent crude prices surged to a 2012 peak above $128 a barrel, a 19 percent rise from the end of 2011.

Tensions between Western nations and Iran over the country’s nuclear program has fed worries about supplies. However, recovering Libyan oil exports, concerns about European demand, and higher output from Saudi Arabia and Iraq have helped check the price surge, as has the possibility that the United States and others could release oil from their strategic reserves. {ID:nL2E8EFBR4]

Ramirez and Japanese Trade Minister Yukio Edano attended a signing ceremony in Tokyo for a broad, bilateral cooperation agreement.

PDVSA said in a statement that it reached financing agreements totaling $1 billion with Japanese banks including the Japan Bank for International Cooperation.

The deals include $800 million in financing for the expansion of the El Palito refinery, as well as $200 million for acquisition of oil sector goods and services. PDVSA did not provide further details.

A Japanese government source said Japanese trading houses Marubeni, Mitsui & Co and Mitsubishi Corp we re involved in agreements for financing and sale of equipment to the Venezuelan energy sector.

State-backed Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp extended a three-year deal with PDVSA on cooperation in oil development technology, the source said. (Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori in Tokyo and Marianna Parraga in Caracas; Editing by Daniel Magnowski and Steve Orlofsky)

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