OPEC Stays: Production Levels to Remain

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) held its 147th extraordinary general meeting Feb. 1, 2008 in Vienna, Austria. The 13 member countries decided to keep production levels where they are for the time being, stating "current OPEC production is sufficient to meet expected demand for the first quarter of the year."

The cartel did recognize that the global economy is in flux and requires special attention in order to keep the market stable. 'The Conference noted that the significant uncertainties associated with the projected downturn in the global economy called for vigilant attention to their impact on key market fundamentals until its next Meeting on 5 March 2008,' stated meeting notes.

U.S. President Bush recently visited Saudi Arabia, asking that OPEC raise output at the meeting. Additionally, U.S. Energy Secretary Bodman has pleaded that the cartel increase production, citing the waning American economy as an indicator that the market demanded more oil and hoping the increase would bolster the country out of a potential recession. Bodman later recanted saying the U.S. economy would be fine if the cartel did not increase production levels.

News agencies are reporting that OPEC has hinted that the March 5 meeting may cut production levels.

The oil-producing nations that are members of the cartel include Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Venezuela. HE Dr. Chakib Khelil, Minister of Energy and Mines of Algeria and head of the country's delegation, serves as the current president of OPEC.