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Archive for Sunday, January 7, 2001

Energy OPEC to cut crude oil production

January 7, 2001

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— Members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries have agreed to cut production by 1.5 to 2 million barrels a day to boost prices, Kuwait's oil minister said Saturday.

The state-run Kuwait News Agency quoted Sheik Saud Al Sabah as saying Ali Rodriguez, secretary-general of the cartel, informed him of the consensus among OPEC's members. He did not provide further details.

In Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, a Saudi official speaking on condition of anonymity said there were extensive contacts between OPEC member countries to reduce production.

"Production will be decreased by between 1.5 million and 2 million barrels a day, with the likely figure to be 1.7 million," the official said.

He said this week will witness further talks among member states, especially between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Saudi Oil Minister Ali Naimi recently held talks with Rodriguez and Venezuelan Oil Minister Alvaro Silva Calderon, the official said without providing further details.

Iran's OPEC governor, Hussein Kazempour Ardebili, was quoted Saturday as suggesting OPEC could decide on cuts of as much as 3 million barrels a day in the coming months, beginning with its Jan. 17 meeting in Vienna.

"If OPEC decides to cut production by 1.5 million barrels on January 17, then there will be every possibility that it would again institute cuts by another 1.5 million barrels in the second quarter of the current year," Ardebili said.

"However, if it decides to reduce production by 2 million barrels in the wake of the January meeting, then OPEC's production would drop (again) by another 1 million barrels at the beginning of the spring," he added.

OPEC has increased production four times during the past year, totaling 3.7 million barrels, in order to bring prices down from more than $30 a barrel which had consumer nations, especially in Europe and the United States pressing hard for more oil to be put on the market. OPEC countries produce 26.7 million barrels a day, or 40 percent of the world's oil.

A mild European winter and replenished crude inventories prompted a more than 25 percent drop in international oil prices during the past month. But prices have climbed recently along with confidence the cartel will decide to cut production during its meeting in Vienna. On Friday, the benchmark Brent crude from the North Sea was at $25.18 per barrel.

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