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OPEC keeps output steady as forecasted by Iran

Abu Dhabi, Dec 5, IRNA - Iran's prediction came true as OPEC on Wednesday decided to keep oil supplies unchanged.

"Market is saturated with oil and I think the meeting ends with making the decision to keep output steady," Iran's oil Minister Gholam-Hossein Nozari told PIN ahead of the 146th meeting of Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

Nozari, who headed the OPEC's Ministerial Monitoring Committee here Wednesday, told PIN the panel found no need for boosting the group's output.

The committee studied the OPEC's oil market, concluding that the market was adequately supplied with oil and there was no need for the group to raise production, he added.

"Given prices and conditions of market, we concluded that OPEC's decision on keeping output ceiling steady will have no impact on prices," Nozari said.

The Ministerial Monitoring Committee comprises representatives from Iran, Nigeria, Kuwait, and the OPEC Secretariat.

The OPEC oil ministers' meeting in Abu Dhabi comes at a crucial time, with oil prices down from their record near US$100 a barrel levels established last month but still up nearly US$40 from the beginning of the year.

OPEC agreed to keep oil supplies unchanged, Nigerian Oil Minister Odein Ajumogobia said, rebuffing consumer country calls for more crude to rein in prices now near $90 a barrel.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries also agreed to meet again at the end of January to review its decision ahead of a regular March gathering, Ajumogobia told Reuters.

Ahead of the meeting, ministers said they saw no reason to lift output because they were already pumping enough crude to meet winter fuel demand.

"We've seen nothing yet to justify an increase or a decrease," said powerful Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi.

"Our position is that demand and supply are balanced and there is no need to increase oil to the market," said Iranian Oil Minister Gholam-Hossein Nozari.

OPEC took little more than an hour to reach its decision.

The 13-member group is under pressure from big consumers like the United States to raise output to help contain an oil price rally that saw crude hit a record above $99 a barrel on November 21.

Expectations for an increase were one of the factors behind an $11 reversal in prices in the two weeks before OPEC met.

Prices rose a dollar after the decision to $89.32 a barrel Some in OPEC share consumer country concerns about the impact of high energy costs on economic growth as a U.S. slowdown threatens to spill over into the global economy.

But ministers argue that they cannot control prices because speculators have divorced prices from market fundamentals.

"A widespread perception of market tightness and the fear of future shortages have fuelled increasing market speculation," said OPEC President Mohammed bin Dhaen al-Hamli. "Increased speculation has detached prices from fundamentals."

... Payvand News - 12/06/07 ... --

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