17 Dec 2008

Saudi Arabia backs OPEC output cut

6:06 am on 17 December 2008

The world's top exporter Saudi Arabia has given its full backing for OPEC to make the biggest supply cut ever in its fight against slumping demand and falling prices.

As the organisation met in Algeria, Saudi Arabian oil minister Ali al-Naimi said there would be a cut of about two million barrels per day.

He told Reuters he also expected those outside OPEC to cut up to 600,000 barrels per day in concert with the 12-member exporter group's decision.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries' restraints of two million bpd already in place have failed to counteract a recession that has battered global demand and lopped more than $US100 off prices since July.

Oil eased to under $US44 a barrel on Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia, OPEC's most influential member, has already taken steps to remove excess oil and push prices back towards the $US75 level Saudi King Abdullah has identified as "fair".