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Posted on  

October 19, 2001

Mideast Oil Ministers Discuss Levels

Oil giants Saudi Arabia and Iran called for intensified contacts among petroleum producers to stabilize the world markets following a drastic fall in prices in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Saudi Oil Minister Ali Naimi and his visiting Iranian counterpart, Bijan Namdar Zangeneh, met in the Saudi capital Riyadh to discuss the situation but did not take any decision on their production levels.

Oil prices have been below the minimum in the target price range set by OPEC for 17 consecutive trading days, plunging after the terror attacks in the United States. OPEC had said it would raise production by 500,000 barrels a day if the price was below $22 a barrel for more than 10 trading days.

Naimi said OPEC's objective remains maintaining stability in the market and stabilizing the OPEC price level around $25 a barrel, which OPEC had managed to sustain most of the year before the Sept. 11 attacks.

Both ministers called for contacts between the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC producers to bring stability.

``All oil producers agree that $25 a barrel is a fair price for all,'' Naimi told reporters. ``Any action that we may take will make sure that it won't hinder world economic growth.''

``OPEC must establish contacts with major producers outside of the organization and try to convince them of the necessity of creating suitable conditions in the oil market,'' Zangeneh said.

Naimi declined to predict the size of a possible production cut in the short term. He also said there has been no U.S. pressure on OPEC to refrain from an output cut to raise prices.
The value of OPEC's basket of seven crude oils averaged $19.48 a barrel Tuesday, the most recent data available.

OPEC's target price band is $22-$28 a barrel. The mechanism is broadly intended to keep prices stable and in a range to suit producers and consumers.

In New York, crude for November delivery was down 17 cents to $21.83 in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

OPEC members are next scheduled to meet Nov. 14.

Saudi Arabia is OPEC's most powerful member while Iran is the cartel's second-largest producer.


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