OPEC holds oil output amid price uncertainty

OPEC also elected Iran to become the cartel's president in 2011, a post it will hold for the first time in 36 years. Both decisions were made at the latest ministerial meeting in the Austrian capital.

OPEC, which pumps 40 per cent of the world's oil, agreed to keep its target at 24.84 million barrels a day, current president Wilson Pastor-Morris of Ecuador told reporters after the meeting at its headquarters.

"No change" to output, said Pastor-Morris, while Saudi Arabia Oil Minister Ali al-Nuaimi also confirmed the widely-expected decision, adding that it had been taken "because the market is good."

The oil market registered little reaction, with Brent North Sea crude for November delivery remaining close to USD 85 a barrel in London trade after solid gains in recent days.Ahead of the meeting, and mindful that a spike in prices could harm a slowing global economic recovery, OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia said it was happy for crude to stay around USD 70-80, where it has been for much of the past year.

OPEC, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, has kept its official output target steady since the start of 2009 following hefty cuts aimed at boosting prices.

It meets periodically to set output with a view to supporting its members' revenues and oil sector investment. OPEC's next meeting will take place in Quito, Ecuador in December.
With the official output target remaining on hold, the cartel may use its final communique from today's meeting to call upon its members to show greater compliance with official production levels.

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