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OPEC Considers Boosting Oil Output - 2004-06-03

Members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, meeting Thursday in Beirut, are considering an increase in oil output to drive down world fuel prices.

Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi told the Arabic daily Al-Hayat he expects the cartel's daily output to be set at 26 million barrels, up from the current 23.5 million barrels.

However, some cartel members are expected to present other proposals to raise output by a lesser amount, or in stages.

Late doubts over the size of the expected production increase pushed up oil prices in early trading in some international markets Thursday.

OPEC is under pressure to increase production after recent terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, and record high oil prices.

Experts say there is concern that Middle Eastern violence might hurt oil production and reduce the amount of oil on world markets. Saudi officials have sought to reassure nervous investors that its oil facilities are well protected.