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Friday September 1 9:52 AM ET
Norway Can't Help Curb Crude Prices Norway Can't Help Curb Crude Prices

OSLO, Norway (AP) - Norway's offshore oil fields are already running at full capacity, so the world's second largest oil exporter can do nothing more to increase supply and help curb soaring prices, the oil minister said.

``We have no available capacity,'' oil minister Olav Akselsen told reporters Friday at a news conference. Oil prices are now nearing 10-year highs.

This nation of 4.5 million people is not a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, but it has often supported OPEC's efforts to manage world oil prices.

It joined OPEC in cutting production when prices sank to 12-year-lows in late 1998 due to a global gut. In July, Norway lifted the last of its voluntary production curbs to help OPEC bring down prices that had nearly tripled in just over a year.

Prices remain high, even though OPEC countries and nonmembers are now producing more than the expected global demand, Akselsen said.

``The market is based on a lot of things. One of the major things is psychology,'' he said. ``We (oil exporters) are producing more than the market calls for, so in theory prices should go down but they haven't.''

On Monday, Akselsen is meeting OPEC President Ali Rodriguez, also Venezuela's oil minister, in Oslo to discuss the oil market. Akselsen said they could discuss the philosophy of regulating the market, but there was nothing Norway could do.

``We're producing what we can, so it is very limited how much we can effect prices,'' he said.

In July, Norway's offshore oil fields produced an average of 3.299 million barrels per day, according to figures released Thursday.

Akselsen said stable oil prices would benefit of both exporters and importers, but he said he does not have a preferred price range.

OPEC has agreed to increase production if prices as measured by its index of crude oil prices exceeds $28 per barrel for 20 straight days. Prices have remained near 10-year highs, at over $30 per barrel.

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