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US Credits Saudis for Oil Increase

September 10, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Clinton administration gave Saudi Arabia credit for the OPEC production increase announced Sunday but said it is too early to know what effect it will have on the world oil shortage.

Oil ministers meeting in Vienna, Austria, agreed to raise by 800,000 barrels a day the production quotas of members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, effective Oct. 1. The amount is 3 percent of the current quotas’ total of 25.4 million barrels a day, although it already is being exceeded by 700,000 barrels.

``I think we’ve got to digest what they’ve done today,″ John Podesta, the White House chief of staff, said on ``Fox News Sunday.″ ``We’re going to digest that, see what the market does and what it does, really, to stocks.″

``We’re short on oil. We’ve been pushing for increased production. I think this is a substantial increase, led by Saudi Arabia. ... But we’re going to have to take a hard look and see whether it’s enough, really, to bring (prices) back ... down to historic levels.″

The Saudis have been proponents of increases as high as 1 million barrels a day. First word of the OPEC decision came from the oil ministers of Algeria and Qatar.

The decision ``is in the interest not only of consuming nations but of producing nations,″ Podesta said.

But for now, he said, ``These are complex markets, complex questions, and we’re going to take them one at a time.″

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