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Norway Expected To Cut Oil Output

March 27, 1998

OSLO, Norway (AP) _ The minority government appeared to have won Parliament’s support Friday for cutting Norway’s oil production to help OPEC in its bid to boost prices.

``We now have solid backing in Parliament,″ said Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik. The government will announce its decision on reducing Norway’s daily oil production of 3.2 million barrels early next week, he said.

World oil producers are trying to forge a united front in paring oil output in an effort to lift crude prices, which have tumbled to nine-year lows. Members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and some other producers pledged earlier in the week to restrain output.

Norway, the world’s second largest oil exporter, announced Thursday it wanted to join in, by slicing output by 3 percent to 6 percent. However, a majority in Parliament had said it would block the proposal.

After meeting Friday with representatives of the largest opposition party, Labor, Bondevik said his coalition government, with just 42 seats in the 165-seat Parliament, now has the needed backing.

``This question is too important for party politics alone,″ Bondevik told reporters. ``We want to have meetings with other parties before we announce the size of the cuts.″

Thorbjoern Jagland, leader of the Labor Party, told the Norwegian news agency NTB that the government could expect the support of Labor, which has 65 seats in parliament, for a modest reduction in output.

``If the government comes back with a proposed cut of 3 percent, it would be a reasonable plan,″ Jagland was quoted as saying. ``There is a majority for that in Parliament.″

Norway is not an OPEC member, but the government wants to support the group’s efforts to bolster prices.

Oil prices plunged after OPEC’s decision last year to raise production by 10 percent, just as world demand slumped because of the financial turmoil in Asia and mild winter weather in parts of Europe and North America. OPEC plans emergency talks Monday on a proposal to cut world oil production by 1.6 million to 2 million barrels a day.

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