The price of oil remained steady on Tuesday ahead of an OPEC summit in Caracas, from which analysts said that they were not expecting any major policy shifts to be announced.
The price for benchmark Brent North Sea crude oil for November delivery firmed during the day, before easing back to 30.40 dollars a barrel, unchanged from the opening and up slightly from 30.24 dollars at the close on Monday.
Heads of state from the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) are to gather in Caracas on Wednesday and Thursday for a summit marking the organisation's 40th anniversary, but Venezuelan Oil Minister and OPEC President Ali Rodriguez indicated that they would not be discussing a production hike.
"The price of a barrel (of oil) is not on the agenda for the Caracas meeting because its objective is to adapt the principles of OPEC to the new global reality," he said on Wednesday in Caracas.
Rodriguez also said that the gathering -- only the second meeting of the group to be attended by heads of state -- would redefine "its principles and establish a base for future actions."
And analysts said they were not expecting any major policy announcements to emerge from the talks. "It's a heads of state meeting, not really an OPEC meeting at all, so we don't really see anything to change the market coming out of that meeting," said Credit Lyonnais Rouse analyst Philip Oxley on Tuesday.
"We shouldn't really get any changes in policy on output."
GNI analyst Lawrence Eagles said that the rise in oil prices on Tuesday was "a technical rebound because prices have gone so far." But he added that worries that Iraq might halt production, as it did last November, was also putting upward pressure on prices.
"Also, the (UN) Security Council is voting for the reparations damages to Kuwait by Iraq this week," he said."Nobody thinks there will be military action, but some people think Saddam could stop oil shipments." He was referring to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, who ordered his troops to invade Kuwait in 1990.
The prospect of an early winter was also of concern to the market, Eagles said.The market shrugged at reports that European Union finance ministers would discuss releasing oil from their emergency reserves when they meet in Brussels on Friday.
"There are conflicting signals about this, but basically I don't think it will happen," said Eagles.Oxley agreed, saying: "It would change things should they go ahead, but I can't see it quite happening just yet ... (but) you never know."
Meanwhile, the market was awaiting the release of fresh data from the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday on US crude oil stock levels, but analysts said they were not expecting any major surprises there either.
"There shouldn't be any earth-shattering figures coming out of it, because any new oil should take a couple more weeks to hit the market, but you never know," said Oxley.—AFP.
©-Agence France Presse.
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)