US Says More OPEC Supply Needed to Boost Inventory

OPEC and other world oil producers need to boost production to counter sagging inventory levels in the United States and other industrial nations, U.S. Energy Secretary Sam Bodman said Wednesday.

"I believe we do" need more supply from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Bodman told reporters at a conference on U.S.-China relations.

"I've made my case and I'm hopeful that they will follow through," Bodman said, although he declined to say whether OPEC should take action when it meets in December.

OPEC members, who have already agreed to boost production by 500,000 barrels per day starting Nov. 1, will meet informally in Saudi Arabia next month. A senior OPEC delegate said another OPEC output hike may be needed.

U.S. crude rose above $87 a barrel on Wednesday, erasing three days of losses, after the U.S. government reported that U.S. crude oil stocks fell 5.3 million barrels last week.

Bodman said it was too early to tell if U.S. stocks are too low, but he said that industrial nations are "are short inventories overall."

"It depends on how one evaluates current data," Bodman said, pointing out that U.S crude oil stocks were still above their historical levels.

"There is always a tendency to jump to conclusions based on one or two data points," he said. "In order to make a judgment on this you really need to look at many years."

The U.S. economy will eventually take a hit if crude oil prices hold near Friday's all-time record $90.07 a barrel, Bodman said.

Bodman has said that the U.S. economy has been "remarkably resilient" to high oil prices to date.