ABU DHABI, (Reuters) – OPEC agreed on Wednesday to keep exports unchanged, rebuffing consumer country calls for more crude to rein in $90-a-barrel oil.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries also agreed to meet again on Feb. 1 to review its decision.
Ministers justified the deal on the grounds they believed they were already pumping enough crude to meet winter fuel demand after a September decision to lift output. “Our position is that demand and supply are balanced and there is no need to increase oil to the market,” said Iranian Oil Minister Gholamhossein Nozari. “The postponement of a decision only means that the supply gap between global oil demand growth and non-OPEC supply growth will be met by a draw in inventories in consuming countries as we move into the peak winter demand season,” said analyst Harry Tchilinguirian at BNP Paribas. “That remains bullish for prices.”
U.S. crude rose $1.70 to $90.01 a barrel.
The 13-member cartel came under pressure from big consumers like the United States to raise output to help contain a price rally that saw crude hit a record above $99 a barrel on Nov. 21.
Expectations for an increase were one of the factors behind an $11 reversal in prices in the two weeks before OPEC met.
Some in OPEC share consumer country concerns about the impact of high energy costs on economic growth as a U.S. slowdown threatens to spill over into the global economy. But ministers argued that they cannot control prices because speculators have divorced prices from market fundamentals. “A widespread perception of market tightness and the fear of future shortages have fuelled increasing market speculation,” said OPEC President Mohammed bin Dhaen al-Hamli. “Increased speculation has detached prices from fundamentals.”
OPEC also set output targets for its new members Angola and Ecuador at 1.9 million barrels a day and 520,000 bpd respectively. That puts output for 12 members with official quotas at 29.67 million bpd, exluding Iraq, the only member not bound by a quota.