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OPEC Chief Sees ‘Consensus’ to Maintain Output Levels | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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LUANDA, (AP) — OPEC oil producers have reached a consensus to maintain production levels in light of comfortable prices, the OPEC secretary general said Monday ahead of a meeting of the cartel in Angola.

“There is a consensus that there is no change,” Abdullah El-Badri told reporters, saying raising production levels next year was “not on our radar at this time.”

OPEC oil producers meet on Tuesday at their first ever meeting hosted by Africa’s new crude-pumping giant Angola and are expected to maintain emergency oil quota cuts agreed a year ago amid strong prices and high stocks.

“If you look at the price, very comfortable, but if you look at fundamentals, especially inventory … the stocks, they are a bit high. So we have to do something about this,” Badri said.

“I will ask the ministers to comply more” with the quotas introduced in January, he added. Compliance has slipped but observers say that ministers have few real means to enforce it.

Tuesday’s meeting caps a year of recovery for oil prices, which have more than doubled since the cartel set strict quota cuts in the depths of the economic crisis 12 months ago.

In January the cartel enforced total OPEC cuts of 4.2 million barrels a day, which helped prices more than double from lows around 32 dollars in December.

Several OPEC ministers have said the current price of oil — which has been hovering around 75 dollars a barrel — is comfortable for its 12 members.

Observers had said ministers at Tuesday’s meeting would have one eye on Iraq’s recovering oil industry and its ambitious plans to ramp up its production to levels that could rival OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia.

But Iraqi Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani told reporters on Sunday he did not expect to tackle the question of production allowances for Iraq, while stressing its special situation as a country recovering from war.

“I don’t expect any discussion on setting quotas or even discussing till we reach the point when there is a significant increase of Iraqi production,” likely in two or three years, he said.

Iraq is currently exempt from the cartel’s system of quotas, which seek to limit production by members in order to stabilise prices.

Badri also said Iraqi quotas were unlikely to be on Tuesday’s agenda.

“It will come, but not now,” he said.

It is the first meeting hosted by current president Angola, which joined the exclusive 12-member Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries in 2007 but remains scarred from 27 years of civil war that ended seven years ago.