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OPEC Votes to Maintain Output Limits

September 26, 2002

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed at its Osaka, Japan meeting Sept. 19 to leave production limits at their current 11-year low, Bloomberg reported. The decision pushed the price of oil near one-year highs in pre-opening electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, where crude for October delivery was selling for $29.35 a barrel, Reuters said. The production quotas, established in January, have led to a 49 percent jump in crude oil prices – leading many to call for an increase in supply to ease energy costs. The price of diesel tracks the price of crude oil and, since January, the retail diesel price has risen more than 25 cents a gallon. OPEC President Rilwanu Lukman said that there is still a chance that the cartel of the world’s largest oil producers may raise output when they meet Dec. 12 in Vienna, Austria. Analysts said that the decision by OPEC not to boost production could lead transportation companies, airlines, refiners and general consumers to purchase oil and fuel now, before demand peaks during the U.S. and European winters – driving prices even higher than they already are. Gordon Kwan, an energy analyst at HSBC Research said that if there is a war in the Middle East as winter approaches, oil prices could rise as high as $40 a barrel.
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