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OPEC to Cut Daily Oil Production

By Anthony Stokes, VOA, Washington

OPEC has agreed to cut oil production in an effort to stop a sharp slide in world petroleum prices. After a hastily called meeting in Doha, the international oil cartel OPEC agreed to cut output by 1.2 million barrels a day.

Analysts say the cut, the first in nearly two years, will likely send oil prices higher. The move is intended to counter an expected slowdown in demand for oil next year and increased oil inventories, especially in the United States.

Prior to the meeting, analysts said while an output cut could have boosted prices, a cut to the official quota for each of the 11 member countries could have lowered prices because OPEC is already producing under its official targets.

Algeria's Energy Minister, Chakib Khelil, says OPEC is not likely to make further cuts in output soon. "We will put supply and demand in balance, taking into account the fact that we have actually over stocks, the stocks are high. But, at the same time, there is a good probability that demand from China could be larger than we expect or from India for that matter," he said.

The Saudi oil minister, Ali Al-Naimi, says, however, OPEC is not ruling out further cuts in production and could discuss them when the cartel meets in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, in mid-December.

The cartel agreed to the cut as oil prices fell below $58 per barrel in recent days. That marked a drop of more than 25 percent from record highs above $78 in July.

The price of oil moved above $58 a barrel Thursday on the New York Mercantile Exchange as markets anticipated the OPEC move.

Oil prices skyrocketed earlier this year because of concerns about the war between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon and the standoff between the West and Iran over that country's nuclear program.

Prices have since tumbled as U.S. energy inventories have grown compared to last year's levels. There has also been a weaker-than-anticipated hurricane season, allowing producers in the Gulf of Mexico to operate without interruption.

The 11-member OPEC cartel produces about 35 percent of the world's crude oil.

... Payvand News - 10/20/06 ... --

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