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US Energy Secretary to Attend OPEC Price Meeting


U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman will attend a meeting hosted this month by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to discuss record-high crude oil prices.

The White House Wednesday said Bodman will represent the United States at the June 22 meeting in Saudi Arabia, when the heads of OPEC countries will meet with the leaders of consumer nations.

One of the price issues to be discusses is the role of oil traders, or speculators, who buy oil contracts in order to make a profit. OPEC maintains that supplies are ample, but that these speculators have been driving prices up.

The price for a barrel of crude oil rose more than $6 during trading in New York today after a U.S. government report showed inventories declined more than expected.

The rise in oil prices has resulted in record high fuel costs, prompting consumers around the world to erupt in protest.

Portuguese authorities say the main airport in the country's capital has run out aviation fuel because of a strike by truckers protesting sharp price increases

A spokesman for Portugal's airport authority said Wednesday that what little fuel is left at Lisbon's Portela Airport will be rationed for emergency, military and state flights.

Protest strikes have snarled air traffic around Lisbon, created roadblocks across much of Europe, and caused seaport closures by fishermen from Britain to Italy. Consumer anger has appeared in Asia, where protesters this week blocked traffic in Hong Kong, South Korea, India and Nepal.

In Thailand today, truckers threatened to strike next week and block roads in Bangkok with hundreds of thousands of trucks, unless the government helps subsidize soaring fuel costs.

In Malaysia Wednesday, the Kuala Lumpur government pledged $300 million in aid to offset rising fuel costs in the state of Sarawak.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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