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OPEC set to maintain crude oil output

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)