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Mexico Oil Producers Push for Deal

March 19, 2000

MEXICO CITY (AP) _ Mexican oil producers have agreed with key OPEC members that more crude should be put on the market to bring down prices, Mexico’s energy minister said Saturday.

Speaking to reporters after a ceremony to mark the 62nd anniversary of the expropriation of the Mexican oil industry, Minister Luis Tellez said the main producers agreed with Mexico that there should be an increase in output next month.

But Mexico’s producers refused to discuss the amount they were considering for the increase, Tellez said.

``There is no established range. With the ministers I spoke to, we agreed not to give out any numbers until there is agreement among us,″ Tellez said.

Mexico is not a member of OPEC, but has played a leading role since 1998 in efforts to curb world output after prices fell to historic lows. Mexico was also the first to call for greater output at the end of this month, when the agreements expire.

Key OPEC members have agreed on the need for more crude in the market to bring down prices and boost falling stocks, though the cartel isn’t expected to reach an agreement before a March 27 meeting in Vienna. Mexico is to attend as an observer.

Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo told oil workers at the anniversary commemoration Saturday that Mexico would continue its cooperation with other oil-producing countries to establish sustainable prices.

But he also warned against ``irresponsible optimism″ over current prices, which have been above $31 a barrel for benchmark crudes.

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