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OPEC Maintains Oil Output Quota - 2003-03-11


Delegates to an oil cartel meeting say OPEC ministers have decided to keep their current oil quota unchanged at 24-and-a-half million barrels a day, because they feel the market is adequately supplied.

The ministers are expected to formally announce their decision later on Tuesday.

Some ministers said the cartel has not formally discussed plans to boost output in case of war in Iraq.

However, Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said the 11-nation cartel can meet demand even if there is a disruption in Iraq's supply. Analysts say if oil fields in northern Kuwait or elsewhere in the gulf were also to shut down, OPEC countries would have trouble making up for those losses. Kuwait has said it will shut down production of about 700-thousand barrels daily at its northern oil fields if there is a war.

US Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said Washington is prepared to tap into its strategic oil reserves if there is a severe shortage. He is expected to hold talks in Vienna with the Saudi minister.

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