OPEC will probably hold consultations about a further output increase if the price of oil stays above $80 a barrel for more than 15-20 days, an OPEC source said on Tuesday.
U.S. crude futures hit a fresh record high of $81.24 a barrel on Tuesday, uncomfortably high for some members of the producer group worried about the potential impact of the price on global economic growth and future oil demand.
If the high price lasts say more than 15 to 20 days, there would at least be consultations between ministers. They'd have to do something about it, the OPEC source said.
It is not good for OPEC to see prices this high. It will affect demand in the long term.
It was too early to say if OPEC needed to boost supply further, the source said.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, source of over a third of the world's oil, agreed last week to boost output by 500,000 barrels per day from November 1. But the increase has done little to allay consumer worries that energy supplies will be strained this winter.
Investors were betting that consuming countries would swallow OPEC's increased supply and still need more oil during peak winter demand.
Concern that hurricanes might disrupt U.S. supplies, as well as fund flows into energy from poorly performing equity markets, have also fuelled oil's rally.
Any talks held by OPEC ministers would probably be by telephone rather than at an emergency meeting, the OPEC source said.
The high price would not last long as concerns about supply would abate once the world's number one consumer, the United States, built stocks of heating fuel ready for winter, the source said.
By the beginning of October, after distillate and heating oil stocks are filled more, I would expect the price to decline, the source said.
OPEC Secretary General Abudullah al-Badri said on Friday that the group viewed oil's surge over $80 as temporary and unsupported by fundamentals.
In the latest weekly figures from the U.S. government, issued last Wednesday, distillate and heating oil stocks rose, but were still well below their levels of a year ago.
Ministers from OPEC were next due to hold talks on the sidelines of an OPEC heads of state summit in Saudi Arabia on November 17-18. The group's 12 members also have an extraordinary meeting scheduled for December 5 in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.