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Saudis Refuse To Boost Output As Oil Summit Ends

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

NPR's business news starts with an oil conference in Madrid offering no relief.

The price of crude oil broke yet another barrier yesterday. It closed at nearly $146 a barrel. The price hike came as oil ministers and executives wrapped up meetings at the World Petroleum Congress in Madrid. Jerome Socolovsky reports.

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(Soundbite of music)

JEROME SOCOLOVSKY: The Qatari singing troupe couldn't lighten the sense of doom. Not only are high prices here to stay, executives said, but much of the easily accessible oil has already been found. Randy Gossen is president of the World's Petroleum Council.

Dr. RANDY GOSSEN (World's Petroleum Council): I think the one positive thing coming out of high price is that it does create the investment capital to get at these harder to produce supplies that are out there.

SOCOLOVSKY: Ola Morten Aanestad of Norway's StatoilHydro says his company is digging down to oil layers under its main natural gas field in the North Sea.

Mr. OLA MORTEN AANESTAD (StatoilHydro): Originally it was believed that you couldn't get anything out of these oil layers. Now we have an ambition of taking 2.1 billion barrels out of those very thin oil layers.

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SOCOLOVSKY: Many in the industry say such efforts are costly and will not bring down prices. But Yusuf Alfea(ph) of Saudi Aramco disagrees.

Mr. YUSUF ALFEA (Saudi Aramco): And we hope that at a certain point the price will come into the reasonable price it should be.

SOCOLOVSKY: Still, Saudi Arabia rejected a further production increase after last month's 200,000 barrel a day boost failed to make a dent in prices.

For NPR News, I'm Jerome Socolovsky in Madrid. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.