NEW YORK, Mar 4 (AFP): World oil prices steadied yesterday as traders eyed two crucial meetings in Vienna next week, dealers said.
New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in April, firmed 31 cents to close out the week at 63.67 dollars a barrel.
In London, the price of Brent North Sea crude for April delivery finished up 11 cents at 64.18 dollars a barrel.
On Monday in the Austrian capital, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meets to ponder whether to recommend UN sanctions against Iran over its disputed nuclear programme.
Then Wednesday, also in Vienna, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries is to hold its latest meeting to set production levels.
Iran, the second-biggest producer in OPEC after Saudi Arabia, is accused by Western powers of seeking nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian energy programme.
No agreement was reached Friday among Iran, France, Germany and Britain during last-ditch talks in Vienna aimed at allaying the nuclear fears.
In Nigeria, an OPEC member and Africa's biggest crude producer, lingering supply concerns provided further support to the market.
Recent unrest has slashed Nigeria's total crude output by some 20 per cent, while separatist militants have threatened further strikes against foreign oil companies in the Niger Delta.
Owing to high oil prices, most analysts expect the OPEC cartel to maintain its current production quota of 28 million barrels per day (bpd), despite some disagreement among member nations.
Venezuela will ask the OPEC cartel next week to cut oil production by between 500,000 and one million barrels per day, Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez was quoted as saying.
Speaking during a visit to Washington, OPEC's Nigerian president Edmund Daukoru said the group would review the recent surge in prices when it debates its next move, but would not be drawn on whether it will cut output.
"Every minister has something to say. It's too early to talk about consensus," he told reporters, after Kuwait's energy minister Sheikh Ahmad Fahd al-Sabah last month suggested the market may be oversupplied and that an OPEC cut may be on the table.
Meanwhile, President of Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Edmund Daukoru said yesterday that the global oil market is oversupplied by about 2 million barrels per day.
In a address in the National Press Club, he said that "the market is indeed well supplied with crude today."
Ending his three-day visit to the United States, Daukoru, the oil minister of Nigeria, said that OPEC's spare oil production capacity of 2 million barrels a day has not been able to counter oil price swings caused by market concerns about supply disruptions.
"We don't believe that that (spare capacity) is having an impact, if you judge by the prices," he said.
Daukoru also said that the OPEC will review a recent surge in crude prices when it meets next week to set production levels.
"If prices persist at the level above 60 we will definitely take that into account. It's difficult to say because the market is so volatile. If we go to much above 60, I would get worried," he said.
"Just rest assured, we are under obligation to the market to keep the market well supplied. We meet as often as it takes to micro-manage the short-term volatility," Daukoru said.