OPEC Says Current Oil Prices 'Fair'

Head of Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said current oil prices hovering around $80 a barrel are good for world economy and oil-producing countries.

CANCUN, Mexico (AP) -- The head of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said Tuesday that current international oil prices hovering around $80 a barrel are good for the world economy and oil-producing countries.

But OPEC Secretary General Abdalla Salem El Badri said that "anything below $70 will not permit us to invest." Oil prices have ranged from $70 to $80 a barrel in recent months.

"We think this 70 to 80 range will not damage any recovery, or hinder any recovery," El Badri said at a forum of 65 countries responsible for 90 percent of the world's oil production and consumption.

"In OPEC, we don't want a low price because (a) low price would not permit us to invest, so if we don't invest, we cannot have more oil," El Badri said. "And we don't want a very high price -- that will affect the demand."

Officials meeting in Cancun are discussing a possible plan for combatting oil market volatility amid a shaky global economy.

"Speculation (in oil prices) will be there. The excess of speculation, that's the problem," El Badri said.

Algerian Energy Minister Chakib Khelil said his country hopes prices will remain within the current range over the next year.

Algeria is one of the 12 nations in OPEC, which sets production quotas in an effort to influence oil prices.

El Badri said new offshore oil discoveries by Brazil could someday qualify that South American nation for OPEC membership -- but not soon.

"Brazil could be one day in the future" a member of the organization because of the offshore discovery, he said. "But not now ... six years from now."

Regarding President Barack Obama's push Tuesday for sanctions against Iran's nuclear program, El Badri said: "I hope that the situation between Iran and the United States will be solved peacefully, because in that part of the world we have enough problems. We don't need any more problems."

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