March 20, 2012 / 6:57 PM / 5 years ago

Venezuela: U.S. plan to tap oil reserves unsustainable

CABRUTICA, Venezuela (Reuters) - Venezuela's Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said on Tuesday that a plan by the United States and Britain to tap strategic oil reserves was unsustainable in the long term and would only have a limited impact on prices.

Ramirez told reporters that the oil-producer group OPEC had no plans to hold an extraordinary meeting to discuss the issue, which he said was primarily a political move ahead of November's presidential election in the United States.

Reuters reported last week that the United States and Britain were preparing a release from strategic oil reserves this year.

Rising world oil prices have pushed U.S. gasoline prices up sharply this year and threaten to choke U.S. economic recovery ahead of President Barack Obama's bid for re-election.

Details of the timing, volume and duration of the planned emergency drawdown have yet to be settled, but a detailed agreement was expected by the summer, a British source said.

Separately, Ramirez said Venezuela's crude production had increased by some 60,000 barrels per day during the first quarter of 2012.

The government of President Hugo Chavez has ambitious plans to boost the OPEC nation's oil output to 3.5 million bpd this year, from around 3.0 million at the end of the 2011.

Writing by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Marguerita Choy

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