As preparations get under way in Beirut for Thursday's quarterly meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), a spokesman for the group says an increase in production of three million barrels is possible, but would do little to stabilize prices.
OPEC spokesman Omar Ibrahim says it would be fairly simple for the organization to increase oil production by up to three million barrels per day.
Mr. Ibrahim says, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates can increase their oil production on short notice to provide up to three million barrels per day to the world market. But he says any impact on oil prices would only last a couple of days.
Oil prices are nearly $40 a barrel, 25 percent higher than they were at the beginning of the year. Mr. Ibrahim says there are four major reasons that oil prices are on the rise - political instability, speculation, increased demand in Asia and inadequate refining capacity in the United States. He also cited security threats in oil producing countries, including the weekend incident in Saudi Arabia, in which more than 20 people were killed in a terrorist attack on a compound used by international oil companies.
There are signs on futures markets that the attack in the world's biggest oil producing country will push oil prices even higher, when markets re-open Tuesday, after the Monday holiday in much of the world, even though the incident did not affect oil production.
Mr. Ibrahim says there could be further oil production increases to combat the rising prices, but they would require some investment.
OPEC's spokesman also says the group is doing its best to control skyrocketing prices, and has already increased output by 2.5 million barrels per day this quarter, in spite of its decision in March to cut production. He says price-stability is in the interest of both producing and consuming nations.
OPEC oil ministers are scheduled to begin deliberations Thursday here in Beirut, amid tight security.