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IEA Renews Call for OPEC to Raise Oil Output

OPEC must increase its oil output before the summer to prevent a sharp decline in industrialised nations' crude oil stocks, the International Energy Agency said on Friday.

In its monthly Oil Market Report, the IEA said gasoline supplies in top consumer the United States were at a 16-year low for the time of year, pushing pump prices above $3 a gallon to near record levels.

"There should be plenty of available capacity to meet forecast product demand increases in July and August, but to achieve this without causing a steep decline in crude stocks, requires an increase in OPEC output before the summer," wrote the IEA, energy adviser to 26 industrialized nations.

"There is the need for a significant increase in supplies to match the forecast 1.6 million barrels per day jump in June oil product demand, which looks unlikely to happen."

In the world's eighth biggest crude oil exporter Nigeria, militant attacks have shut a quarter of production. The IEA, estimated total Nigerian outages had risen to 815,000 barrels per day (bpd) in early May.

The IEA left its 2007 oil demand growth forecast unchanged at 1.8%, or 1.5 million bpd. It lowered its non-OPEC oil supply growth forecast for 2007 by 100,000 bpd and raised estimated demand for OPEC oil in the third quarter alone by up to 400,000 bpd.

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