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U.S. Disappointed by OPEC Decision

March 17, 2001

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Bush administration expressed disappointment Saturday at the decision by OPEC members to reduce oil output and said it further showed the need for more domestic production.

Meeting in Vienna, Austria, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed Saturday to cut 4 percent from their targeted oil output, or 1 million barrels a day, in the hope of shoring up crude prices at a time of weakening demand.

``In light of the current world economic conditions, OPEC’s decision ... is disappointing,″ Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said in a statement.

The action ``demonstrates the importance of increasing America’s domestic production and developing a national energy policy that will ensure a stable, reliable, affordable and diverse supply of energy,″ Abraham said.

OPEC’s cut, which was at the upper end of most analysts’ expectations, is aimed at keeping prices from falling further in the face of a seasonal dip in purchases and an overall decline in global economic growth. It will take effect April 1, OPEC said.

The cartel’s members pump almost 40 percent of the world’s oil, and their decision will affect retail prices for gasoline and other refined products in importing countries such as the United States. One analyst predicted gasoline prices could rise sharply, but others said the impact would be less dramatic.

OPEC will trim its output quota to 24.2 million barrels a day from its current level of 25.2 million barrels.

Bush has argued that the nation’s energy woes can largely be addressed by tapping domestic supplies of fossils fuels such as coal and oil.

The administration does not expect to complete its energy plan before the end of March.

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