Kuwait warned Monday that it would not accept an OPEC output cut of less than 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd), after Qatar urged the cartel to slash at least two million bpd when it meets next week.
"1.5 million bpd is the agreed figure now (among OPEC members). We will discuss anything higher at the Vienna meeting," on January 17, Kuwait's Oil Minister Sheikh Saud Nasser said.
"There is no room to even discuss a cut below this figure," he told reporters."It is not in the interests of OPEC (to cut output by less than 1.5 million bpd).
Studies have shown that there is a surplus of 1.5 million bpd in the market now," Sheikh Saud said.
Outgoing US Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, who has proposed maintaining output at current levels, will visit Kuwait next week to discuss the cuts, but Sheikh Saud insisted that dropping below 1.5 million bpd "would not be up for negotiation".
Qatar's Oil Minister Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiya, meanwhile, urged the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Monday to cut quotas by at least two million bpd.
Quoted by the official QNA agency, Attiya said a cut "of at least two million bpd" was needed in time for the arrival of spring. "Demand for oil traditionally falls every year from April 1. It is certain that the cut this year will reach two million bpd," Attiya said.
The price of a barrel of Brent North Sea crude rose Monday to 25.58 dollars a barrel, boosted by calls for sharp output cuts from OPEC members.
OPEC ministers are due to meet in Vienna next week to consider their next move following the recent slump in crude prices. A production cutback of between one and 1.5 million barrels a day is considered the most likely outcome by market watchers.
But Attiya insisted that "the production cut required must not be less than two million bpd. A larger reduction will be more useful so prices remain in the OPEC price band mechanism of 22-28 dollars a barrel agreed in March."
According to the Qatari minister, whose country has an OPEC quota of 691,800 bpd, the decision to cut production will be taken "quickly". "It will be difficult to keep up the price and stop an increase in consumer stock levels if the decision is taken slowly," he warned.—AFP.
©--Agence France Presse.
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )