Page last updated at 19:29 GMT, Tuesday, 9 September 2008 20:29 UK

Oil falls as Opec ministers meet

OiI platform in the central Gulf
Opec believes it is pumping enough oil to satisfy demand

Brent crude has fallen below $100 a barrel for the first time since April, as traders predict Opec will stick to current output levels.

With Opec now meeting in Vienna to discuss forthcoming production, Saudi Arabia has already hinted that it sees no need for a cut.

Brent crude was down $4.14 to $99.30 a barrel, while US crude lost $3.08 to $103.26.

Prices have sunk from a record of more than $147 a barrel seen in July.

Before the meeting, the Venezuelan energy minister said he would support keeping production levels unchanged.

"We need to keep things as they are," said Rafael Ramirez.

Growing demand

Earlier, the Saudi oil minister Ai al-Nuaimi said: "The market is fairly well balanced."

I don't think the Saudis or Opec in general want to project themselves into the US presidential election
Oil analyst Stephen Schork

"Inventories are in a healthy position, everything is in balance."

OPEC members including Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, have called for no change in output levels though Algeria, Iran, Venezuela and Libya have suggested a cut is needed - claiming the market is oversupplied.

A formal announcement is due early on Wednesday.

Oil analyst Stephen Schork said part of the reason why Opec would keep prices on hold, was so not to become an election issue in the US.

"I don't think the Saudis or Opec in general want to project themselves into the US presidential election, which is what would happen if you saw a production cutback."

Opec is currently thought to be producing about a million barrels per day (bpd) more than its official ceiling of 29.67 million bpd.

In May and June Saudi Arabia agreed to increase production by 500,000 bpd to help calm markets.

Opec produces about 40% of world crude.

In July, the exporters' group said world demand for oil would grow by 50% between now and 2030 as people in developing countries drive more cars.




RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific