Thursday, November 15, 2001

OPEC output cut hinges on others

Cartel asks nonmembers to follow suit

By Bruce Stanley
The Associated Press

        VIENNA, Austria — OPEC has agreed to reduce its daily production target for oil by 1.5 million barrels, or 6 percent, but only if non-OPEC producers share the burden by making a deep cut of their own, the cartel announced Wednesday.

        Delegates of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries said they were asking oil-producing countries outside the cartel to decrease output by 500,000 barrels, for a combined cut of 2 million barrels a day aimed at halting the recent slide in oil prices. The cuts are to take effect Jan. 1.

        “I want to emphasize something. We are not putting pressure on others. We are calling for contributions,” OPEC Secretary-General Ali Rodriguez told a news conference after the group ended its formal talks.

        Confronted with a sharp drop in global demand for crude, OPEC members are eager to tighten their taps and have called on major non-OPEC producers such as Mexico and Norway to do the same. Despite pleas and veiled threats of a price war, however, Russia is the only major non-OPEC producer so far to publicly declare its willingness to oblige.

        “The situation has deteriorated beyond the control of OPEC. It is not an issue of whether "we want' or "we don't want.' The issue is whether "we can' or "we cannot,'” Kuwaiti Oil Minister Adel al-Sabeeh said before the start of formal talks at OPEC's headquarters in Vienna.

        Together, with his counterpart from Qatar, Abdullah Bin Hamad Al Attiyah al-Sabeeh, the Kuwaiti minister stressed that OPEC would not trim production on its own.

        OPEC President Chakib Khelil insisted that the group would not follow through with its planned cuts unless non-OPEC producers shouldered some of the responsibility.

        So far, the group has garnered pledges of non-OPEC cuts totaling about 175,000 barrels a day.


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