16 Mar 2009

OPEC oil cartel keeps existing supply curbs in place

2:15 pm on 16 March 2009

OPEC ministers have agreed they will not cut oil production from current levels, but will strictly enforce the reduction of 4.2 million barrels per day they announced earlier.

The decision reflected concern for the economy and a belief that the curb in supply so far has begun to remove the excess from oil markets, the ministers said in a communique.

OPEC countries are estimated to have carried out about 80% of the reduction, and full compliance would take away more than 800,000 barrels per day more.

Ahead of Sunday's meeting, only Algeria had clearly spoken out in favour of another cut, saying the oil market had factored in a reduction of at least 500,000 barrels per day and prices would fall without further supply restraints.

Venezuela, which in the past has been among the first to call for aggressive action to shore up prices, said proposing new cuts made no sense if the previous agreement had not been fulfilled.

The ministers from the 12-member Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will meet again at the end of May to review progress.