OPEC Keeps Production Ceiling in Place

OPEC members have agreed not to make any changes to current production levels of 25.4 million barrels a day. The cartel has called another meeting in seven weeks time to review the situation with Iraqi exports. High world oil prices gave the OPEC the breathing space to wait to make its first cutbacks since the end of 2001.

OPEC President Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah, who is also Qatar's minister of energy and industry, said OPEC would assess the market again at the end of July: "We don't want to cut for the sake of it. We should justify it," he said. "Holding meetings every 45 days limits speculation and because of the uncertainty at the moment on the world market we want to meet as often as possible," said Iran's OPEC governor Hossein Kazempour Ardebili. "Frequent meetings convey to the market the message that OPEC is being very vigilant and will take measures if necessary, and that keeps prices up."

Attending in Doha, Deputy Russian Energy Minister Alexander Voronin said Moscow aimed for prices at $20-$25 a barrel, a few dollars lower than OPEC's central $25 target. "Our position is the same as OPEC's: to maintain production levels and investment," said Voronin.