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OPEC members agreed in late September to retain their existing 21.7-million-bopd production ceiling, frustrating Western politicians, who had hoped for lower oil prices to jump-start their economies. To many industry observers’ surprise, other OPEC countries convinced Saudi Arabia to join them in holding the line on quotas. Saudi Oil Minister Ali Naimi reportedly came to the group’s meeting in Vienna, ready to argue for at least a minor quota increase, to get in line with supply realities. Riyadh fears that OPEC might be losing credibility, given the cheating on quotas, which OPEC President Rilwanu Lukman admitted was running 1.8 to 2.0 million bopd above the ceiling. However, unlike Saudi, most members are at or near capacity and want to maximize revenue. These nations include Venezuela, Indonesia, Kuwait, Iran and Qatar. Iraq is exempted from the group’s quota agreements. However, in early October, as oil traded above $30/bbl, Naimi did not rule out the possibility that Saudi would bring on additional output if prices remained at this level for more than 20 days.
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