(EnergyAsia, April 27 2011, Wednesday) — The International Energy Agency (IEA) expects the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to earn a record US$1 trillion in export revenues this year if crude prices stay above US$100 a barrel.

Both US WTI and North Sea Brent have climbed above the US$100 mark since late January, with Brent holding above US$120 for much of the last two months due to worsening political unrest in the Middle East and North Africa, increased demand from Japan since the deadly earthquake of March 11, and the sharp decline in the value of the US dollar.

By volume, OPEC’s exports are likely to be slightly lower than the total number of barrels sold in 2008, when revenues reached US$990 billion. But the higher oil prices will allow the organization to top such exports revenue.

Saudi Arabia is doing its best to boost production and allay supply worries, said IEA chief economist Fatih Birol.

Still, oil prices would have to continue rising if Saudi Arabia were to balance its budget amid increased spending aimed at placating its increasingly restive population.