Chakib Khelil of Algeria, president of the OPEC (Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries) said in Palma yesterday that OPEC was committed to maintaining crude oil prices at $22 to $28 a barrel. This will guarantee a range of tariffs which will prevent brusque fluctuations, according to the experts taking part in the congress on energy liberalisation and regulation organised by Repsol YPF-Harvard at the Son Vida Hotel. Khelil's statement was well received although most of those attending the congress were already aware of it. Khelil is also the Algerian minister of energy and mining, and he said that he plans to pay an official visit to Spain at the end of the month, to discuss joint plans such as a gas pipe from Algeria to the Iberian Peninsula, or cable links for exporting electricity. Commenting on OPEC's policies, he said that the mechanism for stability had been implemented at the start of last year, but he pointed out that the Organisation only controls 40 per cent of the market, and does not have control over refining and distribution, the cost of which plays a large role in the final price. “One of our chief objectives is to seek the correct balance between supply and demand,” he said. Other leading figures attending the congress include Carmen Becerril, Spain's director general of energy policies and mining. She said that despite the increase in demand for electricity 30 per cent in the past five years - periods of blackouts have not increased in the same proportion. She also said that Spain and the United Kingdom were the two markets which took liberalisation most seriously.

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