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Oil prices could hit 80 dollars in next two years: OPEC

KUWAIT CITY (AFP) - Prices of crude oil could surge to as high as 80 dollars a barrel within the next two years but such a level would not last long, OPEC's acting secretary general was quoted as saying.

"I can affirm that the price of a barrel of crude oil rising to 80 dollars in the near future is a weak possibility," Adnan Shehab-Eldin told Kuwait's Al-Qabas newspaper.

"But I cannot rule out (the possibility) of oil prices rising to 80 dollars a barrel within the next two years," he said on Thursday.

"If the oil price rises to this level for one reason or another -- for example, interruption of supplies from a producing nation by one to two million barrels a day -- it is not expected to continue for long," he said.

Shehab-Eldin said a price rise to between 50-60 dollars a barrel for a period of two years or more will inevitably boost investments to increase supplies and lead to a drop in demand, eventually reducing prices.

World oil prices were mixed Thursday after reaching four-month highs in New York and London the previous day amid a rise in US crude stocks and jitters over increased global demand.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in April, fell 20 cents to 52.85 dollars a barrel in electronic dealing.

It had jumped 1.37 dollars to close at 53.05 dollars a barrel on Wednesday, the highest close since October 26.

In London on Thursday, the price of Brent North Sea crude oil for delivery in April gained 18 cents to 51.40 dollars a barrel.

Shehab-Eldin said it was in the interest of OPEC and other countries not to see "big and surprising spikes in oil prices, but a gradual balance."

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