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OPEC to maintain its oil output
( 2001-09-27 13:44 ) (8 )

OPEC oil exporters agreed Wednesday during their 117th ministerial meeting to keep crude oil output at the current level of 23.2 million barrels a day despite slumping crude prices, ruling out bigger curbs that might have risked deepening the world's economic downturn.

But ministers decided to meet again on Thursday to formally rubber stamp the decision.

"No change," said Libyan Representative Ahmed Abdulkarim after holding an informal meeting with his counterparts in Vienna.

"We agreed to have a close look at current international circumstance and stick to what we have produced first, and we'll only adjust our output in times of necessity."

Most of the ministers shared the view that if they cut output to bolster prices at this intense moment, it would further worsen the world's economic and political uncertainty prevailing since the September 11 terror attacks on the United States.

The OPEC ministers agreed to meet for a final formal session at 2:00 p.m. (1200 GMT) Thursday, ratifying their pact and release a formal statement.

While OPEC delegates spoke Wednesday of defending their established target price of 25 dollars a barrel, crude prices kept sliding below 22 dollars a barrel for a third consecutive day, which is OPEC's minimum acceptable price.

November contracts of North Sea Brent crude hit a low for the day of 20.70 dollars before rebounding to finish 62 cents higher to 23 dollars a barrel on the International Petroleum Exchange in London.

Contracts of light, sweet crude for November delivery moved higher on the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday, finishing up 57 cents to 22.38 dollars a barrel.

Such vertiginous price slumps usually persuade OPEC to cut output. The cartel has slashed production three times this year, skimming more than 10 percent off volumes to keep prices within its targeted 22-28-dollar range. Yet this time OPEC delegates believed the current situation is not because of the fundamentals in the market, but of the terrorist attacks and the speculations following. "There is no reason to panic," said Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh.



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