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OPEC chief: Oil prices would go higher regardless of supply

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ROME — OPEC Secretary-General Abdullah el al-Badri said Sunday oil prices would likely go higher and that the group was ready to raise production if the price pressure was due to a shortage of supply _ something he doubted.

"Oil prices, there is a common understanding that has nothing to do with supply and demand," al-Badri said on the sidelines of an energy conference in Rome.

Oil prices reached a new high Friday at $117 a barrel.

A host of supply and demand concerns in the U.S. and abroad, along with the dollar's weakness, have served to support prices, even as record retail gasoline prices in the U.S. appear to be dampening demand. Crude prices have risen as much as 4 percent last week.

The OPEC chief said the Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries "will not hesitate" to increase production if the group thought the higher prices were due to shortages. But he said more oil will not solve the high prices.

OPEC's production levels were just one of many factors, he said.

"But how much higher it will go, of course it depends on a number of things: the political situation, whether there is a natural catastrophe, whether there are speculations in the market, whether there are strikes in certain producing countries. So there are many other factors other than OPEC production," al-Badri said.