OPEC May Delay Output Decision Until December Meeting

OPEC ministers, arriving in Cairo for a meeting tomorrow, said they may delay a decision on production levels until December as they assess the impact of their last supply cut amid falling demand.

Qatari Oil Minister Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah and Kuwaiti Oil Minister Mohammed al-Olaim also said the group would probably wait until its Dec. 17 conference in Oran, Algeria, before making a final decision. OPEC agreed last month to reduce production quotas by 1.5 million barrels a day.

The 13 members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which supply more than 40 percent of the world’s oil, are meeting for the third time in as many months to discuss a further cut in production after crude prices plunged more than 60 percent from July’s record of $147.27 a barrel in New York.

Brent crude oil for January delivery fell 1.8 percent to $52.17 a barrel at 3:13 p.m. on London’s ICE Futures Europe exchange.

OPEC produced 32.18 million barrels of crude a day in October, according to Bloomberg estimates. The target output for 11 members with quotas is 27.3 million barrels a day in November. Last month, actual production from those 11 was 29.1 million barrels a day, according to Bloomberg data.

Economic reports this week showed a deepening recession in the U.S., the world’s largest oil user. Consumer spending slumped the most in seven years and orders for durable goods including refrigerators and washing machines declined twice as much as forecast, the Commerce Department said Nov. 26.

Eleven years ago, OPEC members bickered over quotas as oil prices slid 28 percent in 10 months amid the onset of the Asian financial crisis. At a meeting in Jakarta in November 1997, they raised quotas, even as economic turmoil in Asia was slowing demand and prices fell another 44 percent by December 1998 to a low of $10.35 in New York.

TradingEconomics.com, Bloomberg.com
11/28/2008 8:27:35 AM