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Talk of OPEC Output Boost Premature: Saudi's Naimi

Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, said on Sunday that it was premature to talk about an OPEC increase in oil output but group members would discuss the issue at an upcoming meeting.

OPEC heads of state are set to meet in Saudi Arabia on Nov. 17 and 18, with oil prices at record highs near $100 a barrel.

"This is premature but we will discuss the issue when we meet," Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi told reporters after discussions with his Kuwaiti counterpart.

"Gulf producers do not control the market," he said. "Gulf states are trying as much as they can to secure supplies and are trying to achieve market stability but prices set by the market."

At a meeting in September, Saudi Arabia persuaded OPEC, source of more than a third of the world's oil, to raise production by 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) from Nov. 1 in a gesture to consumer countries worried about soaring prices and diminishing stocks.

Some members, including Libya, Algeria and Venezuela were inclined to resist a hike but the views of Gulf Arab states, especially Saudi Arabia, are key to OPEC policy decisions.

OPEC oil ministers have repeatedly said that high prices are the result of geopolitics and a lack of refining capacity rather than low supplies, but this has not eased concern among consumers, including the United States, or the International Energy Agency (IEA) that represents industrialised countries.

A Reuters survey showed the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries raised oil production in October in advance of the formal deal to lift supply.

Kuwait's acting oil minister Mohammad al-Olaim said after meeting Naimi in Kuwait on Sunday that OPEC may consider increasing output if the markets need it.

"OPEC will not hesitate to exercise its responsibilities," he told reporters at the airport in Kuwait after meeting Naimi.

Asked if this would include a possible output increase, he said, "If the market requires it and according to market principles."

Naimi is on a tour of several countries including Bahrain to coordinate ahead of the Riyadh summit, Olaim said.

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