OPEC output expected to stay unchanged

Oil&Gas Materials 9 September 2008 21:35 (UTC +04:00)

Ahead of their meeting in Vienna on Tuesday night, OPEC oil cartel members signalled they would not cut production.

Ali al-Naimi, the oil minister of OPEC's largest producer Saudi Arabia, said Tuesday that the market was in balance.

Venezuela's Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez said his country wanted to "maintain production levels as they are now," even though there was an overproduction of 1 million to 1.5 million barrels per day of OPEC crude.

OPEC is not expected to cut official quotas in its meeting later on Tuesday, but experts say that member countries such as Saudi Arabia might limit overproduction in order to react to lower global demand.

High fuel prices and and the economic slump have dampened consumption in the United States, with demand also slowing in other industrialized countries.

Iran's Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari called on fellow cartel members on Monday to limit oversupply and stick to their allocated output levels.

Algerian Energy Minister Chakib Khelil said the objective was to have "stable, maybe not necessarily very high prices."

It was important to keep the world economy going, explained Kehlil, who is also the president of the OPEC conference, "because it is the world economy that feeds the increasing demand and basically justifies the producing countries' existence in meeting that demand."

But with falling consumption and countries outside OPEC planning to increase production, there might be an oversupply in the market by early 2009, he said.

As the OPEC conference falls in the Islamic month of Ramadan, the meeting starts late in the evening and will likely end after midnight CET time.

One barrel of crude produced by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries stood at 101.08 dollars Monday, down from the record 140.73 dollars on July 3.

OPEC produces over 37 per cent of the world's oil supply. The organization calculates an average basket price based on 13 brands produced by its members.