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OPEC Nations Agree to Increase Production - 2004-06-03

Top OPEC oil ministers meeting in Beirut have confirmed that the oil-producing organization has decided to increase production from 23.5 million to 26 million barrels per day in a bid to ease crude-oil prices around the world.

Indonesia's oil minister and OPEC's current president, Purnomo Yusgiantoro, says the oil group has decided to increase its production in two stages.

Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi also confirmed that OPEC would raise its ceiling by two million barrels per day to 25.5 million barrels on July 1 and that he would add another 500,000 barrels on August 1.

Delegates from Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Nigeria said the decision was reached as a compromise.

Qatar's oil minister, Abdullah al-Attiyah, described the two-tier increase as "a good decision." He said it would give time to test the impact of the policy before OPEC's next meeting.

Iran's oil minister, Bijan Namdar Zangeneh, who pushed for the two-stage production increase, insisted that, "we believe there is no oil shortage on the market and we should be careful in coming months."

The day-long OPEC meeting in Beirut was the first in the Lebanese capital since 1972.

Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri told reporters he hoped OPEC would ultimately decide to move its headquarters from Vienna to Beirut.