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OPEC Ready to Make Up Oil Shortages Caused by Iraq War - 2003-03-20

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, says it can make up any oil shortage caused by the Iraq war.

The general secretary of OPEC, Alvaro Silva Calderon, told reporters the cartel would offset any shortfall in oil production because of the war in Iraq. "The member countries have pledged to use spare capacity if it is necessary," he said. "It does not mean that we are eliminating the quota system. We are facing an emergency."

Mr. Silva Calderon said that, at the present time, there is enough oil on the market to meet world demand.

Saudi Arabia has said it will increase crude oil production to help stabilize world markets. Another plus is that oil production in Venezuela, which had been reduced because of a long strike, is beginning to return to normal.

But analysts say that if the war lasts for months, rather than weeks, shortages could occur.