Faced with declining international oil prices, the 152nd Oil Minister Conference of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) decided on Sunday in Vienna not to further cut crude oil production.
The ministers from OPEC member states decided to maintain the current output level and boost the prices by strengthening the implementation of existing production quotas.
During the six-hour discussion, the ministers analyzed the market situation and finally decided to keep the current production quota unchanged.
Announcing the decision after the meeting on Sunday afternoon, OPEC spokesperson Omar Ibrahim explained that OPEC first needed to review each member state's compliance of the current production cut quota, as well as its effect on oil prices.
OPEC Secretary-general Abdalla Salem El-Badri also told reporters that the production cut goal announced by OPEC so far has been attained by 79 percent, and there is still room for further cut on crude oil supply before its 100 percent compliance. At the Sunday meeting, OPEC member states also agreed to strictly follow the production quota further.
Chairman of this OPEC Ministerial Conference, Minister of Petroleum of Angola Jose Maria Botelho de Vasconcelos pointed out that according to OPEC's projection, the crude oil production of non-OPEC countries would continue to increase this year. He hoped that non-OPEC countries could also contribute to oil prices' stability.
He noted that the stability of international oil prices concerns not only the interests of OPEC countries, but also those of non-OPEC oil producers as well as oil consumers. Sustaining low prices will harm investment in the crude oil production industry, and thus harm the future supply stability.
Asked what kind of oil price is considered proper, he responded it should be "a price that satisfies consumers and also attracts investments."
Vasconcelos also noted that due to the current unclear international economic situation, OPEC would keep paying attention to the market, and decide the next production strategy at the next Oil Ministerial Conference scheduled for May 28.
Prior to the meeting, Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi noted that another production cut of OPEC may boost oil prices, which is unfavorable to the steady development of the world economy.
Since September 2008, OPEC has slashed production for three times, cutting an average of 4.2 million barrels per day, but the international oil prices remain low. The economic recession and relatively high crude oil reserve are the major factors.
However, some experts also pointed out that the retractation of a large number of speculation capital also attributes to the price drop. Therefore, to some extent, the current downturn of prices can not fully reflect the world economic recession and the shrinkage of future crude oil demand. Since the beginning of this year, the OPEC prices remain at 40 U.S. dollars per barrel.
(Xinhua News Agency March 16, 2009)