The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries left unchanged a ceiling for oil production by its members at a meeting in Vienna on Thursday, despite signs of a slowdown in the global economy and slumping oil prices.
Saudi Arabia came to the meeting ready to raise output to stave off the risk of higher oil prices tipping vulnerable economies into recession. The so-called OPEC hawks, Iran and Venezuela, had wanted to lower production to prop up prices.
The decision leaves Saudi Arabia, the largest producer in the cartel and a moderate, to decide on its own whether to influence prices by raising or lowering output before the next OPEC meeting.
The cartel issued a statement late Thursday saying it expected supply and demand of oil in the world to remain balanced through the second half of the year.
It said the weakening economy in Europe was a concern. Demand globally, though, was expected to grow slightly but be offset by rising non-OPEC supply.
The decision would be a positive trend for oil-importing countries. The current OPEC limit is 30 million barrels per day, but the cartel’s members in May pumped 31.86 million barrels, according to the International Energy Agency.