Deficit-spending ‘champions of poor’, Venezuela, spooks oil market to drive prices up

SINGAPORE, August 20, 2008 (AFP) – World oil prices rose in Asian trade Wednesday on fresh supply concerns after key producer Venezuela indicated it could ask OPEC to cut output, dealers said.

In afternoon trade, New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for September delivery, rose 40 cents to 114.93 dollars a barrel. The contract had jumped 1.66 dollars to close at 114.53 dollars in New York on Tuesday.

Brent North Sea crude for October delivery added 47 cents to 113.72 dollars a barrel after rallying 1.31 dollars to settle at 113.25 Tuesday in London.

Venezuela’s Energy and Petroleum Minister, Rafael Ramirez, said Tuesday his country will propose production cuts at the next Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meeting if oil prices continue to fall.

The cartel is to meet next month in Vienna.

“If there is a trend or dynamic toward lower oil prices, Venezuela will consider the possibility of a cut in production,” Ramirez said in remarks released by the ministry.

“This is the position that we will take at the next OPEC meeting,” he said.

Wednesday’s price gains were “follow-through from last night’s bounce,” said Jonathan Kornafel, a d