OPEC talks production cuts at previously unannounced meeting

Associated Press

VIENNA — Senior representatives of OPEC and six other oil producing nations ended “fruitful and constructive discussions” Saturday on coordinated actions aimed at cutting production, a statement issued by the cartel said.

The meeting, which preceded a conference of the 14-nation cartel’s oil ministers scheduled for Nov. 30, was called to discuss methods for driving up the cost of oil by limiting output. For that, though, individual members may have to cut back on the barrels they sell, something they have refused to do for years.

Another possibility would be for Saudi Arabia to be the only nation to reduce production. The desert kingdom now accounts for nearly a third of the Organization of the Petroleum Producing Countries’ output of over 33 million barrels a day and has focused on increasing instead of decreasing production in hopes of cutting into the U.S. shale oil market.

The statement noted that an agreement in principle last month to roll back production has already resulted in an upswing in prices, which still remain low at under $50 a barrel. That’s less than half of the per-barrel price from three years ago.

The statement said the representatives expressed concerns about a “persistent oversupply” of crude, suggesting those at the meeting were not anticipating much change.

Last month’s meeting set a production target for OPEC’s 14 member countries of between 32.5 and 33 million barrels a day. That would be a reduction of less than 1 million barrels even if the Nov. 30 ministerial meeting manages to overcome internal divisions and yields a lower output target.

Alluding to the problem of getting cartel members to put common interests ahead of individual gains, a statement from OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo said “it is only together … that we can move forward.”

The six non-OPEC producers attending the Saturday meeting were Azerbaijan, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Oman and Russia.

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