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Saudi minister sees 'mismatch' in oil prices

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Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi says the world oil market is well supplied and fundamentals do not support high prices.

"There is no relationship between the fundamentals today and the price of oil. There is a mismatch," he told reporters after delivering a speech at an energy forum in Singapore.

During his speech, he said: "Fundamentals do not support high petroleum prices. The world market is well supplied."

Asked whether Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, will push for an increase in crude production at the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meeting next week, he said the cartel needed to see the data first.

"You are trying to get a premature answer. We need to meet first, we need to look at the data and then decide accordingly," he said.

OPEC president Mohammad al-Hamli, who is also the Oil Minister of the third largest OPEC producer, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), agreed there was enough supply.

But he declined to give any hint on whether the cartel will raise output at its upcoming meeting.

"We are going to meet next week and we will have a lot of information available. I'm not dropping any hints, you are going to spoil our meeting," Mr Al-Hamli told reporters after speaking at the same forum.

"In OPEC, when we meet as ministers, we look at the fundamentals. We look at the data and we base our decision on the data available at that time."

Mr Al-Naimi says global oil supplies "are definitely comfortable and they are definitely within the five-year average, and no one can deny it. That is a fact."

He said OPEC had no control over prices being determined by the market.

Mr Al-Hamli identified refining bottlenecks, geopolitical tension, risk hedging and speculation as among the factors driving oil prices higher.

OPEC last decided to raise output in September when it agreed to provide an extra 500,000 barrels of crude a day to the market, effective November 1. © 2007 Australian Broadcasting Corporation

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