updated 1/16/2008 9:46:44 AM ET 2008-01-16T14:46:44

OPEC Secretary-General Abdalla Salem al-Badri said Wednesday the oil cartel will not hesitate to boost output if market conditions warrant it.

"OPEC ... will not hesitate to increase production if the market justifies this increase," Al-Badri told reporters after talks with Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos.

Al-Badri said oil ministers from the organization's 12 members scheduled to meet Feb. 1 would mull over the current situation in the market, and would give the go-ahead to increase output if they deem that necessary.

He said that since 2002 OPEC has increased production by five million barrels per day, because "we thought that the market justified such an increase."

Al-Badri dismissed suggestions that oil reserves are low and said prices that have touched $100 per barrel are affected by numerous factors including a weakening U.S. dollar, the submit market financial crunch and the current geopolitical situation.

Above all, Al-Badri faulted financial "speculators" for roiling the oil market.

Al-Badri was due to deliver a speech later Wednesday in Nicosia, the east Mediterranean island's capital, on the oil outlook and investment opportunities.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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