OPEC committee suggests keeping quota stable

Associated Press

Vienna, January 30:

Confirming sentiment that OPEC is poised to keep its current quota, a key committee recommended that the production ceiling be held at 27 million barrels a day, the group’s president said. The group’s members were split on whether a cut could come before the group meets March 16 in Iran.

Venezuelan oil minister Rafael Ramirez won’t be in attendance after his country met with Chinese delegations to sign several trade agreements. Instead, the South American country’s OPEC governor Ivan Orellana will attend. OPEC is scheduled to start its official meeting at 0900 GMT. Kuwait’s oil minister Sheik Ahmad Fahd al-Ahmad al-Sabah, who heads the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, said the recommendation on production was made Saturday evening by the group’s Ministerial Monitoring Committee.

“We believe that we (will) continue with the ceiling, but at the same time (need) to comply with the decision we made in Egypt,” he said, adding that some cuts had already been made.

On Sunday, he reiterated that the group has a consensus for keeping the output ceiling unchanged. “We’re always after compliance,” Nigerian oil minister Edmund Maduabebe Daukoru said. When asked if OPEC would come out with a strong stance on the issue, he said: “I would hope so.” OPEC’s current quota is 27 million barrels a day, a decision reached during its meeting in December in Cairo, when it agreed to reduce output by 1 million barrels a day. But production is about 29.6 million barrels a day.

Al-Sabah said the 10 members of the group subject to quotas are overproducing by some 500,000 barrels daily. Iraq is not subject to the quota.

Most OPEC oil ministers said Saturday there’s no need to modify output, despite prices hovering near $50, a feeling that could cause more consumer concern about the price of heating oil this winter.