OPEC expected to keep oil output target unchanged
BY FRED PALS, WAEL MAHDI and NAYLA RAZZOUK
VIENNA, Austria (Bloomberg) -- Energy ministers from at least eight OPEC countries expect the group to keep its crude output target unchanged at a meeting today while Saudi Arabia’s Ali al-Naimi said the market is in the best possible condition.
The current 30 million barrel-a-day target for the 12-nation group adequately matches demand and is unlikely to change much in 2014, Suhail Mohammed Al Mazrouei, the oil minister for the United Arab Emirates, said shortly before closed-door talks began at about 10:30 a.m. local time in Vienna. Ministers from Qatar, Angola, Ecuador, Venezuela, Iraq, Algeria and Nigeria also said they expect the limit to be maintained.
Some analysts warn that excess supply, including U.S. shale oil and a potential resurgence in exports from Iran, Libya and Iraq, may push prices lower next year if production cuts aren’t made.
Al-Naimi said that 30 million barrels a day isn’t too much for OPEC’s target. “No, no, is enough,” the Saudi minister said when asked about it. He later said “wait and see” when asked if the target would be rolled over today. He also said there’s no need for Saudi Arabia to cut its own production level. The kingdom is OPEC’s biggest oil exporter and produced 9.65 million barrels a day last month, according to a Bloomberg survey.
Brent crude, the benchmark used to price more than half of the world’s crude, was 23 cents lower at $112.39 a barrel as of 10:30 a.m. in London on the ICE Futures Europe exchange. It averaged $108.57 since the start of the year, compared with $111.68 in 2012 and $110.85 in 2011.
A press conference at OPEC’s Vienna headquarters is tentatively scheduled for 4 p.m. local time.
OPEC is also supposed to decide today who will replace Abdalla El-Badri as the group’s secretary-general. The Libyan official has served an extra 12 months after the group failed to select a successor among three candidates last December.
“Keeping el-Badri is a big possibility as we didn’t reach an agreement so far on current candidates and we don’t have new candidates,” the U.A.E. minister Al Mazrouei said today.
OPEC’s members are Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.