OPEC agrees to leave production targets unchanged, key oil ministers say

Monday, September 11th 2006, 11:09 am
By: News On 6

VIENNA, Austria (AP) _ OPEC kept its official production target steady on Monday but left open the possibility of an output cut later this year with a promise to ``vigilantly'' monitor market conditions that have driven oil prices to five-month lows.

Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries President Edmund Daukoru, who is also Nigeria's oil minister, said he would consult with other members ``should market conditions warrant'' action before they meet again in in December.

For now, the group that produces about 40 percent of the world's crude-oil said there are ample supplies _ an assessment backed up by a more than $10-a-barrel decline in oil prices over the past month.

OPEC's decision means its output quota will hold steady at 28 million barrels a day. Including Iraq, which is not bound by the quota system, the 11-member cartel's daily production is roughly 30 million barrels.

Daukoru said the cartel wants to see whether prices are in a free fall or are merely reacting to high inventories, the cessation of hostilities in Lebanon and progress in talks between Iran and Western powers trying to contain its suspect nuclear program.

Light sweet crude for October delivery fell $1.10 to $65.15 a barrel Monday on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Prices have plunged by about $12 since light sweet crude hit a record $78.40 in mid-July, just after fighting erupted in Lebanon. Each $10 drop in price, analysts say, translates into a 25-cent drop at the gas pump.