BUSINESS

No immediate cut in output: OPEC

MULTIPRONGED STRATEGY: Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Murli Deora (left) meeting the Energy Minister of Nigeria, Edmund Daukoru, in New Delhi on Tuesday.

MULTIPRONGED STRATEGY: Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Murli Deora (left) meeting the Energy Minister of Nigeria, Edmund Daukoru, in New Delhi on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: PHOTO: S. SUBRAMANIUM

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NEW DELHI: The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) on Tuesday gave enough signal ruling out the possibility of any immediate new cut in production to check falling international crude prices.

Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi told media persons that production cuts already agreed upon by OPEC were working well and there was no need to panic over oil prices that had fallen 14 per cent since the start of 2007.

Asserting that there was no need for an emergency meeting of the organisation to discuss output cut before its next meeting scheduled for March 15, he said, "All the fundamentals are significantly healthier than they were at the time of the Doha meeting."

"The market does not need to panic at all and there is a need to protect the interests of both producers and consumers.

"The market is in a healthy condition and moving in the right direction," he elaborated. A 14 per cent slump in crude oil futures so far this year prompted calls from Venezuela and Algeria to deepen two production cuts agreed to at meetings in Doha in October and Abuja in December.

Al-Naimi, who is the group's most influential minister representing its largest producer, turned down the proposal.

Also Nigerian Oil Minister Edmund Daukoru agreed with Mr Al-Naimi as he too felt that there was no need for an emergency meeting before February.

"We took measures in October in Doha and measures in Abuja (in December) and I believe these measures are working well. Inventories in the fourth quarter have come down... which puts the market closer to balance,'' Mr. Naimi said.

"The February (output) cut of five lakh barrels a day comes on top of an earlier announced cut of 1.2 million barrels a day. So, in the aggregate by the first week of February we should be cutting a total of 1.7 million barrels a day," Mr. Dukoru said while interacting with media persons on sidelines of the Petrotech 2007 conference here.

However, he observed that, "I do not know if the cuts already announced are sufficient. When we implement it, we will get to see how markets respond," he said.

Earlier, inaugurating the conference here, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee asked foreign companies to invest and participate in the sector saying that a bulk of oil and gas potential still "remain locked up" in its basins.

However, he emphasised equitable relations between producers and consumers of hydrocarbon, while calling for "redoubled and sustained" efforts to develop new, alternative and renewable sources of energy like nuclear and solar at an affordable cost.

In his address, Petroleum Minister Murli Deora said India had put in place a multi pronged strategy, including faster exploration and acquisition of oil fields abroad, to secure energy at affordable rates.

"We have made substantial progress in the restructuring of the petroleum sector with a conscious and determined policy shift to a competitive market economy, including increasing private sector and international participation in all important segments of the industry,'' he said.

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