OPEC raises output limit; market yawns

June 15, 2005 at 10:59 AM
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VIENNA, June 15 (UPI) -- The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, whose leaders are meeting in Vienna, hiked its output limit Wednesday by 500,000 barrels a day.

The expected move, which lifts the cartel's nominal production ceiling to 28 million barrels per day, had virtually no effect on the market as crude oil prices stayed above $55 per barrel.

OPEC ministers took the action to help drive the price of crude oil below $50 per barrel to reduce consumers' incentives to conserve and take energy efficiency initiatives, observers said.

The cartel also authorized its president to seek a further 500,000-barrel-a-day increase before OPEC's Sept. 19 meeting -- if oil prices don't fall, the Wall Street Journal said.

All OPEC members are producing at maximum capacity, except for Saudi Arabia. The kingdom could increase its output by 1.5 million barrels per day of relatively low-quality crude oil, but it can't find any buyers.

That's partly because the world's refineries also are running at near capacity and partly because refineries are unable to profitably process the crude oil that comprises Saudi Arabia's discretionary production.

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