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OPEC maintained "currently agreed production levels" of 27 million barrels per day
OPEC decided to keep oil production steady in the face of increased cold weather demand during the northern winter but also hinted that high prices for crude are here to stay and that it may cut output soon. At a meeting in Vienna the 11-nation Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which supplies nearly a third of the world's crude oil, maintained "currently agreed production levels" of 27 million barrels per day (bpd), a joint statement said. "Prices have strengthened as a result of seasonal market characteristics, including cold winter weather" in the northern hemisphere, the statement said, informs the Turkish Press. According to the ABC News, Kuwait's oil minister Sheik Ahmad Fahd al-Ahmad al-Sabah, who leads the group, said he was given permission to conduct a meeting via telephone before the next meeting in March to address the production issue if market conditions warrant. Al-Sabah said the group's decision was aimed at bringing more stability to the market, and called on consumers and producers to "walk together - for prices to be acceptable." The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries also decided to temporarily suspend its price band of $22 to $28 a barrel, which was set in March 2000 and has largely been ignored since 2004. OPEC, which accounts for one-third of the world's oil supply, is seeking to keep its buyers - and their consumers - from becoming jittery that prices could resume their climb. Light sweet crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange hit a record $55.17 per barrel in late October, and closed at $47.18 a barrel on Friday. Consumers won't see higher prices as a result of OPEC's decision unless demand surges in the coming weeks, said William R. Edwards, of Texas-based Edwards Energy Consultants. He said the move to keep the ceiling the same didn't address the bigger issue of making sure the refining capacity is taken care of adequately. Without additional refining capacity, he added, OPEC oil can't be processed into gasoline or heating oil, reports Forbes
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