OPEC slashes production; crude continues to tumble

OPEC said at an emergency meeting Friday that it will slash oil production by 1.5 million barrels to stem the “dramatic collapse” of oil prices, but crude prices plunged 7 percent anyway as financial markets spiraled downward across the globe.

By GEORGE JAHN, Associated Press Writer

Demand for crude has evaporated and the supply levers held by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries appear to have little influence in the current economic climate.

Iran and Venezuela pushed for a cut of 2 million barrels a day, but there were concerns among other OPEC members that a more severe production cut would exacerbate a deteriorating economic crisis and further destroy demand.

OPEC officials, however, signaled they were prepared to slice deeper quickly if crude continues its freefall.

OPEC is already producing 300,000 barrels a day above its own quota of about 29 million barrels.

If that overproduction is stopped, and all members comply with the 1.5-million cut, OPEC would produce about 1.8 million fewer barrels of oil a day.

OPEC officials, however, left no doubt that they were ready to slice production again quickly if Friday’s decision does not end the price freefall.

The emergency meeting was initially scheduled for Nov. 18, but that was abruptly rescheduled for Friday in response to prices that have entered a tailspin since their historic high of nearly $150 in July.

OPEC President Chakib Khelil said OPEC was ready to convene another emergency session before its next planned gathering in December in Algeria “if there are further decisions that have to be made.

Analyst John Hall of London-based John Hall Associates said the OPEC decision will not have a dramatic effect, adding he assumed any upward trend would stop at between $80 and $90.

But there was no such trend Friday as markets plunged global and fear of an extended recession spread.

Wall Street joined world stock markets in a precipitous plunge, with the Dow Jones industrials dropping more than 400 points in the opening minutes of trading.

Oil futures slid $4.46 to $63.38 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

“It’s clear that the ministers are attempting to underpin at $60 a barrel,” said James R. Crawford an analyst with Inter Emirates. “But where the market will settle remains open.”

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081024/ap_on_bi_ge/eu_opec_
meeting;_ylt=AtVi.2T5ipPpGTmFXXdm3Ais0NUE

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