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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Energy Secretary Calls For OPEC Production Boost

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson said Tuesday the United States may ask OPEC countries at their meeting next month to consider increasing oil production in a bid to lower U.S. energy prices.

Speaking on ABC's "Good Morning America" program, Richardson said there were some fluctuations in the U.S. gas market that needed to be dealt with.

"We've got to talk to OPEC countries to consider possibly increasing production, at least to keep their options open," Richardson said.

"What we are saying to OPEC, in a low-key fashion, is keep an open mind about increasing production because clearly the markets are tight, gasoline is tight. This is not just the United States," he said, adding that Asian countries were also affected.

OPEC countries are scheduled to meet June 21 in Vienna, Austria to discuss oil production. At their last meeting in March, members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed to increase production by 1.7 million barrels a day, but Richardson has indicated that did not go far enough to ease U.S. gas prices.

The Energy Department reported Monday that U.S. drivers would pay the highest fuel prices on record for Memorial Day - the traditional start of the summer holiday driving season - after average U.S. retail prices at the pump jumped by .89 cents last week to 40.1 cents a liter.

The pump price is up 10.5 cents a liter from a year ago, based on the Energy Information Administration's weekly survey of 800 service stations. The EIA is the Energy Department's statistical arm. The prices leading into Memorial Day are the highest since the EIA began tracking weekly fuel costs during the Gulf War in 1990.

Richardson predicted the average gas price would be between 36.8 cents to 38.1 cents a liter by the end of the summer.

"We're predicting they're going to go down, and there will be moderate decreases," he said.