1 August 2003, 10:26  Oil prices steady after OPEC leaves output unchanged

SINGAPORE, Aug 1 - Oil prices were steady on Friday after OPEC agreed to keep its production unchanged in the face of Iraq's slow return to the export market. "It's unfortunate for Iraq, but depending on what happens there we could get away with doing nothing this year," said a senior OPEC delegate after the oil cartel decided to hold output at 25.4 million barrels per day (bpd). U.S. light sweet crude was up six cents at $30.60 a barrel while London benchmark Brent crude rose three cents to $28.40 a barrel. The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries could defend high prices for the rest of the year without having to cut crude output, analysts and OPEC insiders have said. Hopes among consumer nations for lower oil prices after the Iraq war have been confounded by Baghdad's slow progress in raising supplies to prewar volumes due to the sabotage of infrastructure and damage from the fighting. Iraq is pumping roughly one million bpd, compared with 2.8 million bpd before the U.S.-led invasion. OPEC might raise production if prices go above the top end of its $22-$28 a barrel range for 20 working days, OPEC president Abdullah al-Attiyah said on Thursday. "This is what we have always promised. If the price exceeds $28 we increase production. This is our promise and we stick with it," Attiyah said. The OPEC basket of crudes was last valued, on Wednesday, at $27.31 per barrel. Prices were supported by low U.S. crude stocks, running roughly 10 percent lower than last summer, a time when gasoline consumption is typically at its peak. U.S. government data on Wednesday showed gasoline supplies fell last week, at the midpoint of the summer driving season, owing to a surge in demand and a drop in domestic production due to refinery problems.

© 1999-2022 Forex EuroClub
All rights reserved