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OPEC set to maintain crude oil output

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OPEC, the producer of more than 40 percent of the world's oil, will leave production unchanged when it meets later today, an official from a Gulf state involved in the talks said.

Qatar is leading members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries opposed to a proposal to raise the current quota of 27.25 million barrels a day by 500,000 barrels, the OPEC delegate, who declined to be identified, said today in Abu Dhabi, where the group is meeting. Qatar's Oil Minister Abdullah al-Attiyah didn't answer his mobile phone. Oil has fallen more than $10 a barrel since reaching a record $99.29 in New York on Nov. 21 amid speculation the group may produce more. Venezuelan Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said the decline in prices means OPEC should reject a U.S. request for more oil, while Saudi Arabia's Ali al-Naimi and al-Attiyah said the market has enough oil. OPEC agreed at a September meeting to raise output by 500,000 barrels a day starting Nov. 1.

 

„The case to raise production is not compelling for OPEC,” said David Moore, a commodity strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia in Sydney. „The outlook for demand in 2008 is uncertain and raising output may create a supply glut.” Crude oil rose as much as 0.5 percent to $88.80 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on speculation OPEC will reject calls for an increase in production. It traded at $88.79 at 10:23 a.m. Abu Dhabi time, 42 percent higher than a year ago.

Oil prices are „very high” and ministers should respond, as energy costs increase and mortgage losses slow the economy, U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said yesterday at a news conference in Washington. The OPEC meeting will conclude with a press conference scheduled for 3 p.m. Abu Dhabi time. The group, scheduled to meet again in March, will have an extraordinary meeting in late- January, the Gulf delegate said.

 

Twenty-three of 42 analysts in a Bloomberg News survey this week, or 55 percent, expect OPEC members to maintain production at current levels. The rest expected an increase of between 500,000 and 750,000 barrels a day. OPEC members including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Venezuela, Qatar and Libya have said global supplies are sufficient. ’OPEC will produce as much as required, but I don't think it's needed now,'' Iran's OPEC governor, Hossein Kazempour Ardebili, told reporters yesterday. (Gazdasági Rádió)

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