OPEC Likely to Hold Output Steady

DUBAI (Zawya Dow Jones), Mar. 3, 2010

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is likely to keep crude output quotas unchanged at their March 17 meeting in Vienna as oil prices remain at satisfactory levels, a senior Gulf official said Wednesday.

"The prices are within OPEC's preferred range of $70 to $80 per barrel and if they stay the same until the meeting, we won't see any change in output," the official told Zawya Dow Jones.

"We could see demand rising later in the year...but so far the slight demand increases don't require a change in output," he said.

OPEC at its December meeting in Angola agreed to keep production quotas steady following a series of output cuts in 2008 after oil prices slumped from a $147-a-barrel peak and global demand dropped with the onset of the world's longest recession since World War II.

The cartel wants to trim oil inventories, which remain at historically high levels, by encouraging members to improve their compliance with the combined 4.2 million barrels a day of output cuts they agreed upon in late 2008.

"Some members are still unhappy with the compliance level and they will keep on asking for more commitment to OPEC quotas," the official said.

OPEC in February raised crude oil production to its highest level since December 2008, further eroding group compliance, as members sought to benefit from ongoing high oil prices, a survey by Dow Jones Newswires showed Monday.

The group's 11 quota-bound members increased output by 110,000 barrels a day last month, or 0.41%, pushing overall production to 26.895 million barrels a day from a revised 26.785 million barrels a day in January, according to the survey.

MOSCOW (Dow Jones Newswires), May 28, 2010