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OPEC Denies Crude Prices Stem From Supply Shortage

Top official called on the international community to be calm, saying governments and consumers are panicking over crude prices, which have flirted with record highs in recent months.

LONDON (Kyodo) -- The top official of the secretariat of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries on Tuesday rejected the view that the recent surges in crude prices have stemmed from supply shortages.

OPEC Secretary General Abdulla el-Badri called on the international community to be calm, saying governments and consumers are panicking over crude prices, which have flirted with record highs in recent months.

But el-Badri himself described price levels as unbearable.

Crude futures prices are threatening to break through the $140-per-barrel line in New York trading.

Energy ministers from five of the world's major oil-consuming nations -- Japan, South Korea, China, India and the United States -- have called on crude producers to bolster investments in oil facilities to increase output, ratcheting up pressure on OPEC and other producers to hike output.

El-Badri's remarks are designed to underline OPEC's position that the crude upsurge has mainly emanated from speculators' moves to funnel investment funds into the oil market, market observers said.

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