Oil price danger looms over OPEC meeting

VIENNA, Sept 10, 2007 (AFP) – OPEC oil ministers arrive in Vienna on Monday, under pressure to help combat high crude prices, which have surged to near-record highs and loom as a new risk for the global economy. The outcome is uncertain of a formal meeting on Tuesday, when the group will decide whether to raise output, amid speculation that Saudi Arabia is preparing to persuade its reluctant partners of the need for an increase.

High oil prices, which are within striking distance of 80 dollars a barrel, have become an added burden for the world economy in addition to financial market turbulence from a crisis in the US “subprime” housing market.

OPEC producers find themselves under pressure from consumer countries to bring down prices, but they are aware that the outlook for oil demand is clouded given the question marks over global economic growth.

Qatari Oil Minister Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah summed up the dilemma for the 12-member group as he arrived on Sunday, saying that an increase in supply risked coinciding with a fall in demand because of weakness in the United States.

“What if I increase oil (production), and nobody will buy it?” said al-Attiyah, who is in favour of keeping output