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Venezuela's Chavez Eyes Oil Price Band

The South American leader is going to propose that OPEC set a price range of $80-$100 a barrel.By Rachel Jones from The Associated Press

CARACAS, Venezuela - Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez said he is proposing that OPEC countries consider setting a price range for oil of $80 to $100 a barrel to stabilize the global market.

Chavez raised his proposal for an oil price band Monday night, along with other proposals Venezuela is promoting among fellow oil exporters.

"Let's look for a band between $80 and $100; we're thinking about that," Chavez said. "We think that price would be a fair price for oil."

He called it a "stabilization band to avoid those jumps to $150, suddenly to $50 -- a terrible uncertainty."

Chavez suggested in September that oil producers should look to keep prices between $90 and $l00 a barrel.

Venezuela has said it will urge the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to cut production by 1 million barrels per day at its informal meeting in Cairo Saturday, and carry out those cuts before the end of the year.

Last month, the oil cartel cut output by 1.5 million barrels a day to boost prices.

Venezuela depends on oil for 94% of exports and roughly half the government's budget.

The socialist leader said Venezuela is evaluating the effects of falling oil prices, but has plenty of international reserves and other funds to weather the financial storm. Venezuela will not cut high levels of social spending, he said.

But Chavez said Venezuela could make some unspecified changes if prices stay at their current levels or lower throughout next year.

By mid-afternoon in Europe on Tuesday, light sweet crude for January delivery was down $1.70 to $52.80 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices were trading in a range between $50.79 and $54.66.

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