The Orgainization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will impose another stiff increase on the world price of oil next month, administration officials and American industry analysts believe.
Thee price rise will be in the range of 5 to 7 percent and possibly more, these officials expect, and will come despite assurances by Saudi Arabia's oil minister this week that his nation will act to hold down prices.
OPEC nations will hold their next quarterly meeting in Geneva beginning June 26.
The Saudis, who now sell most of their crude of the cartel's "benchmark" price of $14.55 a barrel, are expected to boost their price to about $16.50.
The other 12 OPEC nations usually charge prices fairly close to the benchmark. Currently, some members are charging $2 to $4 more, citing tight world markets and rising spot market prices.
As he did before the December meeting and OPEC's last quarterly price-fixing session, Saudi Oil Minister Ahmed Zaki Yamani has said Saudi Arabi will act to "moderate" OPEC pricing decisions.
State Department officials say that the administration values the Saudi efforts, but have all but written off the expected results.
For one thing, the Saudi government, led by Crown Prince Fahd and King Khalid, has rebuffed appeals from Washington to increase production. Add Saudi production would place downward pressure on oil prices, American officials argue, and undercut new price demands from other OPEC countries.
State Department officials also note that Saudi Arabia has made clear its dissatisfaction with the Carter administration over the U.S. role in the Mid-east settlement between Egypt and Israel.
"If the Saudis wanted to keep prices stable," said Gene Nowak, a Wall Street analyst with Blyth Eastman Dillon, "they could raise production, but they have no ambition to hold down prices."
The anticipated increases, as they work their way towards the gas pump, eventually would add 3 to 5 cents to the price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States.
A price increase at Geneva in June, would mark the third since OPEC met last December in Abu Dhabi and announced a 14.5 percent increase for 1979, That price increase schedule has since been abandoned and revised upward by the cartel.
Charles Maxwell, an oil marketing analyst at Cyrus J. Lawarence on Wall Street said, "I see a weighted average increase in OPEC prices of about 8 percent."
Walter Levy, an international petroleum analyst based in New York, offered a similar view. Levy said, "If things are left as they are, it is impossible to expect OPEC not to raise prices."
Levy, like others including senior administration officials at State and the Department of Energy, expressed concern that an increase in OPEC's official price will touch off another round of surcharges imposed by OPEC and non-OPEC exporters such as Britain and Mexico.
The shift in the Saudis' role in OPEC politics over the last year is widely perceived in the financial community and international oil circles.
Bankers Trust Co. commented in a recent report: "Saudi announcements and action over the past years suggest that the Kingdom is unlikely to reemerge as a champion of low prices even if conditions later permit."
With the expected price rise, OPEC revenues this year could increase nearly $33 billion above 1978's revenues of $132 billion, Bankers Trust estimates.