Chavez sees soaring oil prices if Iran is attacked

Posted in Latin America | 22-Nov-07 | Source: Los Angeles Times

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez attends the opening ceremony for the OPEC Summit in Riyadh November 17, 2007.
At OPEC meeting, the Venezuelan president proposes the group set up a bank to help developing countries.
RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Saturday that oil prices could more than double to $200 per barrel if the United States attacked Iran over a standoff about Tehran's nuclear program.

"If the United States is crazy enough to attack Iran or commit aggression against Venezuela . . . oil would not be $100 but $200," Chavez told an OPEC summit in the Saudi capital. His remarks were translated into Arabic.

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, who chaired the meeting, was heard after the 25-minute lecture by Chavez as saying to him: "You went on a bit!"

Chavez also said $100 per barrel was a "fair" price for oil.

Oil has lapped against the $100-mark this month, prompting consumer nations to call on the exporter group to help ease price pressure by providing the market with more crude.

On Friday, Saudi Arabia objected to an attempt by Iran and Venezuela to highlight concern over the dollar's weakness in the summit communique, and the group rejected the proposal. "OPEC must stand up and act as a vanguard against poverty in the world," Chavez said.

He proposed that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries set up a bank to help developing countries.

"OPEC should be a more active geopolitical agent and demand more respect for our countries . . . and ask powerful nations to stop threatening OPEC," Chavez said as U.S.-allied gulf Arab leaders sat stony-faced.

Venezuela holds some of the largest oil reserves outside the Middle East and is the No. 4 U.S. supplier.