OPEC unlikely to change production

Vienna, September 11 :

OPEC will likely hold its oil production steady for now - but it’s casting a wary eye on prices as the cost of crude plummets to five-month lows.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, meeting in Vienna on Monday, was expected to maintain its output quota of 28 million barrels a day. With supplies outstripping demand but markets still jittery, key members of the 11-nation cartel said they see no reason to tighten or loosen their taps, and OPEC’s own advisory panel urged the group to keep production at current levels.

But tumbling prices have grabbed OPEC’s attention, and Iran’s oil minister hinted that a cut in output targets could come before winter in the Northern Hemisphere.

Kazem Vaziri Hamaneh told reporters Monday that cartel members worried about falling prices would debate the option of a cut in output by the end of the year. “We’re going to discuss it,” he said.

Crude dipped below $66 a barrel in electronic trading Monday amid expectations that OPEC would leave its production targets untouched. Prices have plunged by more than $10 since light sweet crude hit a record $78.40 in mid-July, just after fighting erupted in Lebanon.

Oil prices dipped again Monday, with light, sweet crude for October delivery down 50 cents to $65.75 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Each $10 drop in price, analysts say, translates into a 25-cent drop at the gas pump.