updated 4/12/2005 4:54:07 PM ET 2005-04-12T20:54:07

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries does not need to raise its output quota and may not need to do so before this summer, Venezuela’s oil minister said Tuesday.

Rafael Ramirez said OPEC is considering whether to increase its official production limit by another 500,000 barrels a day — to 28 million barrels — after implementing a similar increase in March.

Venezuela, one of the leading price hawks within OPEC, does not believe an addition production boost is needed, Ramirez said.

“In this moment, it’s not necessary to increase the 500,000 barrels,” he said.

Ministers from Nigeria and Libya also oppose the move, saying the market already is well supplied and warning that prices could plunge if supply is increased. Ramirez, whose country has no capacity to increase its output even if OPEC raises the ceiling, has sided with them.

Venezuela is the world’s fifth-largest oil exporter and a major supplier of fuel to the United States, the South American nation’s main trade partner.

OPEC, which produces roughly a third of the world’s oil supply, meets June 15 in Vienna to discuss the possible production increase, current oil prices and petroleum demand on the international market.

Light crude for May delivery fell 41 cents to $53.30 a barrel by late afternoon in Europe on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Tuesday while heating oil was down by a half-cent at $1.4825 a gallon.

In Washington, the U.S. Energy Department said the retail price of gasoline jumped another 6.3 cents last week to average $2.28 a gallon nationwide. The weekly government survey said the average price nationwide of regular-grade gasoline was nearly 50 cents a gallon higher than the same time a year ago.

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