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OPEC unlikely to lift production

VIENNA (AFP) – The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries meets here this week to decide on the cartel’s oil output against a backdrop of slowing crude demand and unrest in member nation Libya.

Supplying about one third of the world’s oil, the organization is expected to maintain its output ceiling of 30 million barrels per day when it meets at its Vienna headquarters on Wednesday, even though it is currently producing under the limit.

OPEC is seen sitting tight, with its dozen members largely appearing satisfied by current market prices for crude, as Brent wins strong support from rising unrest in Libya that has slashed the country’s output.

Weighing on prices is a reduction in tensions over Iran following the OPEC member’s recent deal with world powers to allow tighter oversight of its nuclear program in exchange for modest sanctions relief.

New York crude in particular is being hit by rising US oil inventories.

OPEC will meanwhile use the meeting of its nation members from Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, to decide also on a new secretary general, or administrative head of the organization that was founded in 1960.

“Oil prices are still well within the range most of the members are comfortable with, so there shouldn’t be much case for cutting production,” Thomas Pugh, commodities analyst at Capital Economics consultants, told AFP.