January 5, 2011 / 6:24 PM / 9 years ago

UK's Cameron urges OPEC to boost crude production

LONDON, Jan 5 (Reuters) - British Prime Minister David Cameron urged OPEC on Wednesday to boost production of crude after a recent rise in oil prices to 27-month highs.

The increase in oil prices, combined with petrol duty and sales tax rises, have pushed petrol prices in Britain to record highs and brought complaints from consumer groups.

Cameron said Britain could use its status as an oil producer that is not part of OPEC to try to persuade it to step up output at a time of high prices.

“We are an oil producer ... we need a regime that encourages firms to continue to extract oil from the North Sea,” Cameron said in a question and answer session with Britons at a manufacturing plant in central England.

“Actually in a small way, by not being members of OPEC, we are outside that cartel, so we can push our own production levels and we should be arguing for opening up OPEC and opening up oil production in the world,” he added.

Oil Clc1 was trading around $90 a barrel on Wednesday.

Officials of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries have said they see no need to raise production and that a rise in prices to $100 a barrel this year would not necessarily lead to an increase in output.

Mohammed Ali Khatibi, Iran’s OPEC governor, told Reuters on Wednesday that there is no shortage now and no need to supply more oil. Iran holds the OPEC presidency this year. [ID:nLDE70419P]

Cameron said he was talking to the Treasury about ways of adjusting the fuel tax so that it would go down when prices rise and increase when they fall back.

OPEC has long maintained that Western governments should reduce taxes on oil products.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change forecast last year that British oil production was likely to fall to just 1.03 million barrels a day (bpd) by 2015, from 1.39 million bpd in 2009.

Britain’s oil output peaked in 1999 and has steadily declined over the past decade as North Sea fields have been depleted. It became a net importer of oil in 2006.

Editing by Jane Baird

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