Page last updated at 15:47 GMT, Sunday, 15 March 2009

Opec keeps oil output unchanged

Oil well near Van, Texas, US (file image)
Opec has already cut oil production quotas three times

Oil ministers from the 12 Opec countries meeting in the Austrian capital Vienna have decided to keep oil production at current levels.

Some ministers had pressed for a cut in production, but others were believed to favour enforcing previous cuts before any new measures were considered.

With demand for oil predicted to fall this year, Opec is keen to avoid another decline in the price of oil.

Prices have averaged $40 a barrel in 2009 compared with $100 last year.

According to Opec figures, the 12 member states have so far delivered only around 80% of the 4.2 million barrels per day in cuts that have been agreed since September last year.

Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Venezuela

The ministers pledged to comply more strictly with the cuts.

Another meeting will be held on 28 May to assess whether further cuts in production will be necessary.

Algeria, Venezuela and Qatar, had said that oil output should be cut further. Oil prices have fallen from a record high of more than $147 a barrel in July and currently trade around $46 as the global downturn has hit demand for oil and oil-based products.

Russia, which vies with Saudi Arabia as the world's largest oil producer, sent Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin to Vienna to observe proceedings and said in future it planned to send a permanent observer to Opec.

However, it said it was not inclined to join the organisation.

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