* OPEC pumps 2.3 million bpd above its target-Badri
* Says $100 a barrel is comfortable price
* IEA says Iran exports down 200,000-300,000 bpd from 2011
* Qatar warns of $150 oil if investment too low
(Updates prices, paragraph 3)
By Gus Trompiz and Peg Mackey
PARIS, May 3 OPEC is working hard to bring down
oil prices that jumped towards $130 a barrel earlier this year,
its secretary general said on Thursday, and is pumping much more
than its official target even as exports from cartel-member Iran
Oil surged in March to $128 a barrel, the highest
since 2008, as increased concern over the loss of Iranian oil
due to tighter sanctions combined with supply hitches elsewhere.
"We are not happy with prices at this level because there
will be destruction as far as demand is concerned," OPEC
Secretary General Abdullah al-Badri told an energy conference.
"We're working hard to bring down the price. We're not
His comments weighed on oil prices, which had already fallen
back from the March high. Brent crude on Thursday fell as low as
$116.10, its lowest since early February. It had been trading
above $118 earlier in the day.
The 12-member Organization of the Petroleum Exporting
Countries is pumping 32.3 million barrels per day (bpd), Badri
said, citing figures given to OPEC by member countries.
That is 2.3 million bpd more than OPEC's target of 30
million bpd and higher than a Reuters estimate of OPEC output in
April published this week.
Badri again identified $100 as a comfortable price - a
level endorsed by top OPEC producer Saudi Arabia in January -
and said the price was being driven higher by speculators.
"There has been no shortage of oil in the market. Producers
have been able to meet consumer needs," he said. "We also see
this as being the case for the rest of 2012 and the foreseeable
"Today the price continues to be driven by excessive
speculation," Badri said.
NO NEED FOR STOCKS NOW-IEA
The extra OPEC oil is filling gaps caused by an unusually
large number of supply outages globally. Supply breaks were
running at nearly 1.3 million bpd as of early April.
It has also offset a decline in exports from Iran, which is
facing stiffening western sanctions over its disputed nuclear
Iranian oil exports were running at between 200,000 and
300,000 bpd below last year's level, Maria van der Hoeven, head
of the International Energy Agency, told Thursday's conference.
Iranian officials have said the country exported an average
of 2.2 million bpd last year.
The IEA, adviser to 28 industrialised countries and manager
of their emergency oil stockpiles, last year tapped its members'
strategic oil reserves to cover shortages caused by the loss of
There could be a case for releasing stocks if an unexpected
event occurred, as with the civil war in Libya, although there
is no reason currently to do so, given that the market is well
supplied, Van der Hoeven said.
"At this moment, although prices are relatively high, it's
not the case," she said.
"You can use this instrument only once ... so timing and
circumstances are very important."
Badri's figure of 32.3 million bpd for OPEC production is
even higher than a Reuters estimate of 31.75 million bpd for
OPEC output in April - the highest since 2008.
OPEC in December set the target at 30 million bpd, settling
an argument that broke out in 2011 after Iran and other members
opposed a Saudi-led plan to raise the production ceiling. Output
has remained above the target all year as Libyan supply has
While supply may be ample at present, forecasters such as
the IEA have for years been urging oil-producing nations to
vastly expand investment in order to meet rising future demand.
Qatari Oil Minister Mohammed al-Sada, also attending the
conference in Paris, warned oil would head ever higher unless
trillions of dollars are invested in the energy sector.
Gulf producers will have to stump up $100 billion a year
over the next 25 years to meet future demand, out of total
investment of $19 trillion, he said.
"If these investments are not achieved by 2016, the price
will rise to over $150 in real terms," he predicted.
(With reporting by Caroline Jacobs; Writing by Alex Lawler in
London; editing by William Hardy and Jane Baird)