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OPEC leaves quota at status quo

Members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries left their 30 million barrel-per-day quota for oil production intact Wednesday, a decision that indicates the cartel’s satisfaction with current crude prices and its reluctance to do anything to further weaken the world economy.

But even though it stuck with the status quo, the group, whose representatives are in Vienna for the meeting, may face serious tests in the near future, as rising production outside the cartel threatens its market share and influence in the world.

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So far, OPEC has had an easy year. Crude prices have been stable and within the range the organization favors. Although US oil prices have fallen into a $80- to $90-per-barrel range, the non-US benchmark Brent crude remains well above $100 per barrel. The OPEC basket, which members consider representative of what they receive for their oil, was $104.80 per barrel Tuesday.

“At these prices no one wants to rock the boat,’’ said Bhushan Bahree, an OPEC analyst at IHS Cera, who was in Vienna for the meeting.

But the global oil market is going through major changes.

IHS Cera expects the global supply of oil from non-OPEC producers like the United States, Kazakhstan, and Brazil to grow by 1.2 million barrels per day next year — well ahead of demand, which is likely to increase by only 800,000 barrels per day.

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