- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 29, 2008

CAIRO, EgyptOPEC ended a hastily convened meeting in Cairo Saturday without announcing new output cuts, despite the steep drop in crude prices and the threat it poses to member governments’ national budgets.

The oil producing group’s president, Chakib Khelil, said OPEC is concerned about the weakening world economy and its impact on oil prices.

The group, however, will likely wait until a meeting in Algeria on Dec. 17 to decide whether to cut additional crude supplies from the market.

Khelil said oil ministers of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries “agreed to take any additional action on 17th of December to balance oil supply and demand and achieve market stability.”

His comments Saturday came after the group convened what it called a consultative meeting in Cairo to take stock of market situations and to asses whether members were complying with a 1.5 million barrel per day output cut announced Oct. 24 in Vienna, Austria.

Khelil said preliminary market data indicated members were complying with the earlier cuts.

The cut announced in Vienna has so far failed to stop the price drop, and the cartel abruptly convened the Cairo gathering on the sidelines of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries’ meeting.

The price of crude stood at about $147 a barrel in mid-July. On Friday, the U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for January delivery was trading at about $54 per barrel.

The price drop and the wider financial meltdown threatens to cut deeply into OPEC member states’ government budgets.

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