OPEC may switch to euro

DUBAI Fri Feb 8, 2008 7:19pm GMT

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DUBAI (Reuters) - OPEC may abandon the dollar for pricing oil and adopt the euro but any such switch will "take time", OPEC Secretary-General Abdullah al-Badri was quoted as saying by a weekly magazine.

A decline in the dollar has eroded oil exporters' purchasing power, prompting some members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to call for a switch away from the U.S. currency.

Badri's remarks sent the dollar lower against the euro on Friday.

"Maybe we can price the oil in the euro," the London-based Middle East Economic Digest (MEED) quoted Badri as saying in an interview. "It can be done, but it will take time."

Reuters obtained an advance copy of the interview which will be published in the London-based magazine's next issue.

"Badri tells MEED ... that the producers' cartel may switch to the euro within a decade to combat the dollar's decline," the magazine said without providing a direct quote about the time frame.

"It took two world wars and more than 50 years for the dollar to become the dominant currency. Now we are seeing another strong currency coming into the, which is the euro," said Badri, who is Libyan.

The euro rose sharply to a session high of $1.4547 from $1.4500, where it was shortly before the report. It then settled back at $1.4515, up 0.2 percent on the day, as of around 6:27 p.m. British time.

Iran, at odds with the West over its nuclear programme, and its anti-U.S. ally Venezuela have pressed for OPEC to abandon the dollar and perhaps price oil in a basket of currencies.

But they have had little success despite the dollar's sharp fall against a basket of world currencies in recent months amid growing concerns about the health of the U.S. economy and the prospect of interest rate cuts in the United States.

OPEC groups 13 members and pumps two in every five barrels of crude oil.

(Writing by Firouz Sedarat, additional reporting by Kevin Plumberg in New York, editing by Anthony Barker)

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