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Venezuela opposed to raising oil production at an OPEC meeting in June

Venezuela's energy minister , Rafael Ramirez

CARACAS, April 24 2012

Venezuela's energy minister said on Tuesday he was opposed to raising oil production targets at an OPEC meeting in June.

"We are against it, I think there is plenty of oil available in the market," Rafael Ramirez told Reuters through an interpreter during a visit to Tokyo, when asked whether he was in favour 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 the president of Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA, has said the South American OPEC member disagreed with decisions by some OPEC members to boost output to offset declining exports from Iran .

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

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.

A conflict between Western nations and Iran over the Islamic state's nuclear program fed worries about supplies, but recovering Libyan oil exports, concerns about European demand, plus higher output from Saudi Arabia and Iraq have helped check the price surge, along with the West mulling a strategic reserves release.

Ramirez and Japanese Trade Minister Yukio Edano attended a signing ceremony in Tokyo for a broad cooperation agreement between the two nations.

State-backed Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp (JOGMEC) extended a three-year deal with PDVSA on cooperation in oil development technology, a Japanese government source said.

Three Japanese trading houses, Marubeni, Mitsui & Co and Mitsubishi Corp, also signed basic agreements with PDVSA for financing and sale of equipment to the Venezuelan energy sector, the source added. 

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Story by Osamu Tsukimor from Reuters

Reuters| ue Apr 24, 2012 5:06am EDT

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