KUWAIT – Kuwait's energy minister said late on Sunday OPEC was likely to raise production by 500,000 barrels per day from August 1 as planned if oil prices stay as they are now.
"This (production increase) decision was taken in Beirut and will be followed up in the coming period. If conditions and prices stay as they are, then the decision (to hike output by 500,000 bpd) will hold," Sheikh Ahmad told reporters at the Kuwait airport.
"But if there are any new developments in oil prices or the markets' needs, then this decision will be reviewed," he added.
He was responding to a question on whether the oil cartel intends to go ahead with that extra output increase from August 1. Kuwait is a member of OPEC, which meets next on July 21 in Vienna to review market conditions and production policy.
In a bid to cool skyrocketing prices, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (search) decided at its last meeting in Beirut in early June to raise production in two stages: a two million bpd hike from July 1 and an additional 500,000 bpd from August.
Asked if he was content with current oil prices, the Kuwaiti minister said: "The price is still above $30, which means that it is still within a range that we think is suitable."
But asked what he thought of speculation that OPEC giant Saudi Arabia may not support the August production increase, Sheikh Ahmad said: "Petroleum prices are back at $35 or higher these days, so I think if it continues at this level without coming down, then we have to take action."
In London, front month benchmark Brent ended just below $36 per barrel on Friday, while August West Texas Intermediate (search) was last quoted at $38.37 a barrel.
U.S. crude prices have fallen 15 percent from a 21-year peak at over $42 a barrel on June 2 as the OPEC cartel decided to add more oil into the market to help cool sizzling prices.
However, OPEC's reference crude oil price rose sharply to $34 a barrel on Thursday from Wednesday's $32.68, the OPEC news agency said on Friday. OPEC has an official target range of $22 - $28 but the basket has been above the band all this year.
Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi (search) said on Wednesday oil prices were fair, sparking speculation in world markets that the cartel's kingpin might not back the extra 500,000 bpd raise.
Iran's Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said on Saturday he was content with current oil prices and that OPEC would have to decide whether it needed the planned 500,000 bpd of extra oil.
The Kuwaiti energy minister spoke to reporters before traveling with Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah to China, at the start of a 16-day tour of four southeast Asian nations for words of wisdom on their economic success and to promote his Gulf Arab state as viable investment target.