William Maclean and Barbara Lewis
Wednesday, Dec 17, 2008
OPEC oil ministers met on Wednesday to remove a record 2 million barrels per day from oil markets in a race to balance supply with the world’s rapidly crumbling demand for fuel.
The 12 members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries were also aiming to build a floor under prices that have dropped more than $100 from a July peak above $147 a barrel.
As the ministers convened a meeting which was expected to proceed smoothly, oil was trading just above $44 a barrel.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, has led by example — reducing supplies to customers even before a cut has been agreed to help push prices back toward the $75 level Saudi King Abdullah has identified as “fair.”
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Ali al-Naimi, the kingdom’s oil minister, was first to publicly call for curbs of 2 million bpd ahead of the meeting.
“The purpose of the cut is to bring the market into balance and avoid the gyrations of the price,” he said. “The cut may lead to higher prices or may not.”
Others in the group that pumps more than a third of the world’s oil said at least two million barrels needed to go from daily output to prevent a massive build in inventories.
“A minimum of two million we think needs to be cut so we can balance the market,” Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani told Reuters.
This article was posted: Wednesday, December 17, 2008 at 5:02 am