Opec 'doing all it can' for oil prices

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Opec, the oil nations responsible for one-third of the world's most vital energy source, conceded yesterday that it could do little to control prices.

As demand for oil from the developing world, China especially, grows, experts are increasingly concerned about a shortage that would send prices to potentially catastrophic levels.

Prices have come down from the record levels of $70.85 per barrel last year, but remain historically high.

Abdullah al-Attiyah, Qatar's Oil minister, said yesterday that there are no plans to increase levels of production to meet extra demand. "The price as it is now, nothing will happen," he said. "Even if it reaches $70, what can we do? We are doing all that we can."

On Friday, a barrel of London Brent crude cost $65.91 at close of trading. Although there are decades worth of oil left, there comes a point at which it cannot be brought out of the ground fast enough. At that point prices soar, as it becomes clear that demand cannot be met. Some experts think that peak may soon be reached.

Some Opec players are investing heavily to improve production capacity.