Iraqi Oil Minister Amer Mohammad Rashid called on the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to slash output by one million barrels per day (bpd) on Tuesday October 16 to shore up slumping crude prices.
OPEC members must reduce output by one million bpd to restore balance on the oil market and "achieve new price levels," Rashid said, quoted by the official INA news agency.
Rashid called for "immediate and decisive measures to protect the interests" of the cartel's members, who have seen oil prices nosedive since the September 11 terror attacks on the United States.
Iraq is not included in OPEC's output quota system because of the UN embargo imposed on it since its August 1990 invasion of Kuwait. OPEC's basket oil price fell back to $19.63 a barrel Monday from $19.82 on Friday.
Oil prices slid to around the $20-dollar-a-barrel mark since the September 11 attacks amid fears of a US, and possibly world, recession. The oil cartel has set itself a bottom price of $22 per barrel, and has a mechanism in place under which a cut of 500,000 bpd is supposed to take place when the price drops under that level.
Rashid said the slump in oil prices was due to the failure of some OPEC members to adhere to the output cuts agreed at ministerial meetings. Cuts agreed by OPEC since the start of the year totaled 3.5 million bpd, but production had effectively been reduced by just one million bpd, the Iraqi minister said.
He called on OPEC members to "abide strictly by the production agreements reached as an interim measure pending the ministerial meeting" scheduled for November. A meeting between energy ministers from OPEC and non-OPEC oil producing countries scheduled for October 19 in Lisbon has been put off because of a clash with another OPEC meeting in Vienna.
There had been speculation that the meeting might have resulted in a cut in world oil production to boost prices. The meeting that will be held in Vienna is that of the Market Monitoring Committee, which is made up of OPEC Secretary General Ali Rodriguez and the oil ministers of Algeria, Nigeria, Iran and Kuwait. The committee usually meets ahead of full OPEC conferences to draw up recommendations to be presented at the larger gatherings. — (AFP, Bagdad)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )