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Wed, Jan 17, 2007 - Page 10 News List

OPEC eyeing more oil production cuts


OPEC members should wait until next month before deciding on further cuts in their crude oil output, Nigerian Oil Minister Edmund Daukoru said yesterday.

OPEC members have already reduce their output by 1.2 million barrels a day and plan to enforce another cut of 500,000 barrels a day starting next month.

The cuts are aimed at keeping oil prices falling too much in the face of weak demand and increased production by non-OPEC countries.

Asked whether there is a need for additional cuts in OPEC supplies, Daukoru said: "We cannot judge the market right now. We'll have to wait till Feb. 1," he said.

Daukoru was New Delhi to attend an international conference on energy.

Pressed on whether OPEC's output cut totaling 1.7 million barrels a day would be sufficient to buoy prices, he told Dow Jones Newswires: "I don't know. February is not yet here. When we implement [the February cuts] ... we will see how the market is going to react."

His comments, which echoed similar views expressed by the Kuwaiti oil minister on Monday, highlighted divisions within the cartel on whether it needs to act now to try to put a floor under oil prices.

On Monday, Venezuelan oil minister Rafael Ramirez said his country was pushing for an emergency OPEC meeting and that some members backed this idea.

Saudi Arabia, which has so far kept a public silence on the issue, holds the key in tilting any decision within the OPEC. The kingdom's oil minister, Ali Naimi, was also attending the conference in New Delhi.

Daukoru said oil prices had been softening because of milder-than-usual winter weather and substantial oversupply in the market.

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