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Oil Supplies Are Key Topic at Annual CERA Week

Monday, 7 Mar 2011 | 9:40 PM ET

Top energy industry leaders gather in Houston this week at a critical time for the oil producing world and are expected to attempt to assure markets that supply is ample around the globe.

The gathering is the 30th annual CERA Week conference. As meetings started Monday evening, attendees were looking forward to hearing from the CEO of Kuwait Petroleum Corp Tuesday, following a report in the Financial Times that Kuwait, along with Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates are taking "back door" steps to ramp up productionby an additional 300,000 barrels per day, lost due to violence in Libya. Saudi Arabia is adding 700,000 barrels.

Libya, in the throes of rebellion, had been responsible for about 1.1 million barrels per day, or about 1 percent of the world's oil production.

The annual CERA conference is one of the most anticipated energy get-togethers and this year includes oil ministers from Algeria, Mexico and Angola. The CEOs from such companies as BP and Total are among the 200 CEOs attending the conference, which has drawn more than 2,000 attendees this year.

"This year's conference will be dominated by questions about the Middle East, uncertainty about oil prices and what it means for the U.S. economy and global economy," says IHS CERA Chairman Daniel Yergin. "The future of the economic recovery and its vitality are very much front and center."

With oil over $105 a barrel and U.S. gasoline prices averaging $3.52 a gallon — and spiking to nearly $5 at one Los Angeles station — there are certainly many nervous consumers and investors.

Fear and uncertainty about unrest in the Middle East and North Africa is permeating and transforming the psychology of global oil markets, says Yergin, who is also a CNBC contributor. The result is rising oil prices, despite ample global supplies.

These are the issues facing leading CEOs not only of oil companies, but airlines, transportation companies and producers of other fuels as well.

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