OPEC president says oil cartel likely to trim production, amount determined later this month

Friday, December 1st 2006, 8:21 am

By: News On 6

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) _ OPEC is likely to trim production again, the president of the oil cartel said Friday, adding that he expects a cut of at least 500,000 barrels a day.

The specific amount will be decided at the OPEC meeting scheduled for this month in Nigeria's capital, he said.

``There is likely to be some further trimming, the actual amount will depend on the circumstances,'' Edmund Daukoru, who is Nigeria's oil minister and president of the 11-member Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, told a group of reporters ahead of a news conference in Abuja.

On Thursday, Venezuelan oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said OPEC could cut production by 500,000 barrels a day when it meets in Dec. 14 in Abuja, and Daukoru agreed.

``I don't expect anything less'' than 500,000 barrels per day to be cut, Daukoru said. He declined to give a specific figure, saying only: ``When we meet, we will look at the data and the trends.''

Oil prices retreated Friday amid profit taking and easing worries that OPEC will significantly reduce output to boost prices.

Prices had jumped to two-month highs on Thursday on news of declining U.S. fuel inventories and the approach of the Northern Hemisphere winter, when heating fuel demand rises.

But by afternoon Friday in Europe, light, sweet crude for January delivery was down 72 cents to $62.41 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Thursday that OPEC members had reached a consensus to keep oil prices at $50 a barrel. The average for the OPEC basket price this week currently stands above $56 a barrel.

Daukoru said he didn't ``see prices getting back to the $70s, definitely not the upper $70s that we saw back in August.''

Asked about the possible expansion of OPEC's membership, Daukoru replied, ``We have made a membership drive to Angola and Sudan and we are optimistic that those two countries will respond.''

Nigeria is Africa's biggest oil exporter, but its usual 2.5 million barrels of output per day have been cut by 25 percent because of a wave of militant attacks and kidnappings since the beginning of the year.

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