The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries appears to be having trouble agreeing to increase production to make up for oil lost in the cutoff of supplies from Iraq and Kuwait -- despite indications last week that a production increase was imminent.

Meanwhile, Iraq threatened to retaliate against Venezuela and other OPEC nations if they increase their oil output to replace blocked supplies from Iraq and occupied Kuwait, the Associated Press reported.

While most experts believe production eventually will be increased, growing doubts that the rise will come as quickly as originally expected are putting new upward pressures on crude oil prices. The price of a benchmark barrel of crude oil rose 19 cents on the New York Mercantile Exchange yesterday to $26.42, the second trading session that the benchmark price has increased since it tumbled more than $3 from a peak of $29.20 a barrel last week.

Analysts and industry sources said yesterday it appears that several members of the oil cartel are balking at Saudi Arabia's desire to hold a special meeting of OPEC to approve a production increase by amending production quotas agreed to by the members of the cartel last month, before Iraq invaded Kuwait.

The dissenting members apparently want to maintain OPEC solidarity and protect the recent run-up in oil prices, which likely would be reduced by additional output. Most of those dissenting are nations that would be unable to increase oil production much beyond current levels and thus could only lose revenue in an overall production increase because of declining prices.

President Bush said yesterday that he was confident that several OPEC nations would increase their oil production. "I think the Saudis will do their part in helping out along the way. I'm confident of that," the president said at his news conference. "I also would say ... that I am also confident that other countries will make up the shortfall in production that comes about from Iraqi oil and Kuwaiti oil not going to market. And I can't give you the details on that, but I've had enough conversations with people around the world ... to feel that things are moving in the right direction there."

But industry sources said yesterday it appears that no OPEC members have raised their output so far, at least not significantly enough to make a major dent in the 4.5 million-barrel-a-day shortfall caused by the shutdown of Kuwaiti oil fields and the embargo on Iraqi oil exports.

Analysts believe that individual OPEC members will not increase their production significantly without a group decision that would protect them politically. "If no one is going to increase production before they can get an OPEC meeting, then it might be a while," said John Redpath, an oil analyst at Energy Security Analysis Inc. in Washington.

Venezuela and Iran both said yesterday that they would not increase production unilaterally, and Iran lashed out at nations considering increased production.

Iran is believed to have become an important swing vote in the negotiations over an OPEC accord, torn between its desire for higher oil prices and its animosity toward longtime enemy Iraq.

"OPEC members have no right to commit treachery against their people in favor of the global oil devourers," Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said in Tehran.

In Caracas, Iraq's ambassador to Venezuela, Majid A. Al Samarra'l, said his nation viewed raising oil production by OPEC members "an act against the Iraqi government," adding that "those who take action against us will suffer damage." He did not say what sort of retaliation Iraq had in mind.

Samarra'l spoke at a news conference and said he was relaying a communique from his government.

A spokesman for the Department of Energy said the agency had been unable to confirm that Saudi Arabia, OPEC's largest and most important member, so far had increased production, as had been expected in return for American military protection. Saudi production had been expected to increase by 2 million barrels a day, enough to cover almost half the oil lost from Iraq and Kuwait. Venezuela and the United Arab Emirates also had been expected to raise production significantly.

"Some of the countries that would like to produce more are looking to do it under the protection of OPEC," said Lawrence J. Goldstein, president of Petroleum Industry Research Foundation, a New York think tank partly funded by the oil industry. "While there are still a lot of promises out there, so far all there are are promises."

"I think right now Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Nigeria would like to have {OPEC} officially make an announcement that would sanction raising output beyond their quotas," said Vahan Zanoyan, an OPEC expert who is senior director at Petroleum Finance Co., a Washington consulting firm. "It's a matter of the internal politics now of convincing enough countries to hold a meeting."

Zanoyan said Saudi Arabia's apparent reluctance to unilaterally call for an OPEC meeting to approve the higher production levels seems to indicate that the Saudis don't feel they have enough support yet for the proposal. "Saudi Arabia can call a meeting, but they don't like calling a meeting unless they can get their own way," he said. "If Saudi Arabia does call a meeting, you can almost be sure that they've got it together."

Joseph Story, president of Gulf Consulting Services, a McLean-based Middle East analysis firm, described the tug of war among the OPEC members as "sort of a division between the haves and have nots." Members such as Algeria and Iran, already producing at full capacity, don't want overall production raised because the resulting price decrease would cut into their revenue.

Similarly, Zanoyan said, "They're enjoying this price increase. They don't want to mess it up."

Iran is in a particular quandary, experts said, because it has benefited from the sharp increase in oil prices, which at their peak last week were nearly double their levels of a month earlier. Sources say Iran last week sold 30 million barrels of oil it had in storage in Europe, and Zanoyan said: "The windfall has been humongous for Iran... . They made a killing."

However, Iran also would like to hurt Iraq by encouraging the world boycott that is attempting to economically isolate the nation led by Saddam Hussein, and supporting an increase in OPEC oil production to make up for the lost Iraqi and Kuwaiti crude would endorse that boycott.

So Iran is believed to be under considerable pressure from the Saudis to vote for increased production.