VIENNA, Jan 29 (AFP): A majority of the powerful OPEC cartel want to keep oil production at a near 25-year high at meeting in Vienna Tuesday because of elevated fuel prices, despite calls from Iran to cut output.
Edmund Daukoru, president of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, reiterated his desire to maintain the production ceiling at 28 million barrels per day as he arrived in the Austrian capital yesterday.
"With prices above 67 (dollars per barrel), I would personally not see a need to cut" the quota, said Daukoro, who is also Nigeria's oil minister.
He was the first energy leader from the 11-nation OPEC group, which pumps about 40 per cent of the world's oil, to arrive in Vienna ahead of the meeting.
His colleagues, including king pin Saudi Arabia's Oil Minister Ali al- Naimi, are due to touch down from Sunday.
The price of oil, which hit a record high of 70.85 dollars a barrel at the end of August, has rebounded in the past two weeks on fears over production in Nigeria and Iran. A barrel of light sweet crude oil closed Friday in New York up 1.24 dollars at 67.5 dollars.
Nigeria, the world's sixth largest exporter of oil, is plagued by security problems along the Niger Delta to the south, where there have been a series of attacks against foreign oil companies. As a result, production in the country has been cut by more than 200,000 barrels per day.
As for Iran, the fourth largest oil exporter in the world and an influential member of OPEC, its decision to resume uranium enrichment activities earlier this month sent a wave of panic through the oil market.
Traders fear Tehran may threaten to cut its vital oil exports if the country is taken before the United Nations Security Council for possible sanctions over its nuclear programme.
Washington has accused Iran of using its nuclear programme to generate electricity as a cover for developing atomic weapons. Tehran denies the claim.
Without directly brandishing the oil weapon, Iran has already called on OPEC to reduce oil production by one million barrels per day at the Vienna meeting.