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OPEC VOWS MODERATION IN PRICING

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OPEC leaders are starting to discuss what prices they will charge in the 1990s when oil demand may rebound strongly.

Their key word is moderation."The coming decade is going to be good for the oil business," Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Hisham Nazer said in a speech to the 10th annual Oil and Money conference organized for some 350 oil industry executives by the Oil Daily and International Herald Tribune newspapers.

Said Nazer: "Too high a price merely sets the stage for too low a price."

Nazer was referring to the period when $40-per-barrel oil prices killed demand and caused a glut in the early 1980s. Prices are now around $18 dollars per barrel. They dropped as low as $10 in the worst of the glut.

Nazer said the glut taught the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) a lesson in discipline and moderation.

OPEC's secretary-general, Subroto of Indonesia, said that in 10 years, world demand for OPEC oil could go as high as 30 million barrels daily from 22 million now - if prices rise modestly and only in line with inflation.

Subroto echoed Nazer in stressing OPEC's wish to work with oil companies to achieve a stable market in the 1990s when world environmental concerns and political change in the Soviet Union, the biggest oil producer, would present new challenges.

"Uncertainty is a scourge for us all, except perhaps the speculators," Subroto said.

Nazer had criticized so-called Wall Street refiners - some investment houses which, he alleged, traded in oil futures simply to turn a profit from volatile prices.

"Oil is too important a commodity to be left at the mercy of legalized gambling," Nazer said.

But to help stabilize prices, OPEC must get all 13 members to obey assigned output quotas.

Sources close to OPEC say private consultations have moved to heads of state level, another problem being the United Arab Emirates' persistent quota violations.

"Judging from the open-mindedness that characterized the meeting and the genuine desire by all of those present to resolve this issue, I am more convinced than ever that a permanent solution is in sight," Subroto said.

OPEC meets in Vienna on November 25.