US Energy Sec: Not Worried by OPEC Dollar Debate

U.S. Energy Secretary Sam Bodman said on Tuesday the United States was not concerned about the debate within OPEC on whether it should seek an alternative to the dollar in pricing oil.

Bodman also told reporters that OPEC should increase output at its next meeting in Abu Dhabi in December.

The slump in the U.S. currency to record lows on global markets this month has hit export revenues of oil exporters because oil is priced in dollars.

This has prompted calls from Iran and Venezuela at an OPEC heads of state summit in Riyadh at the weekend that the oil exporting group drop the dollar and price oil against a basket of currencies instead.

Asked whether this discussion in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries was giving the United States cause for concern, Bodman said: "No."

In response to a question on how much OPEC should increase its output at the Dec. 5 meeting, Bodman declined to answer directly but said that OECD crude oil stocks were about 100 million barrels below the five-year average.

"This is the number the market may be looking at," Bodman told reporters in London at a news briefing after addressing a British-U.S. business group.

The dollar's fall on global markets has helped to fuel oil's rally to a record $98.62 on Nov. 7 and the rise has caused Western consumer nations to call for more OPEC supplies to cool the price.