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OPEC Keeps Output Steady

OPEC members have decided to keep the cartel's production unchanged following a ministerial meeting in Vienna. The decision is based on expectations that the world may soon recover from its economic slump.

OPEC's decision to keep output at nearly 25 million barrels a day was widely anticipated. And ministers at the OPEC meeting in Vienna did not dash those expectations. OPEC's Secretary-General Abdalla Salem el-Badri told reporters the decision was based on confidence that as the world emerges from its current economic crisis, it will begin to use - and demand - more oil.

That, in turn will drive up slumping oil prices - a better outcome for OPEC members than boosting prices through production cuts.

But the formal OPEC statement, read out to reporters by the cartel's spokesman Omar Ibrahim, cast the decision in a more sober note - mindful of a world economy that is continuing to struggle.

"While the recent economic indicators point to the possibility of the recession bottoming out before the end of the year, the world is still faced with weak industrial production, shrinking world trade and high unemployment," said Omar Ibrahim. "For this reason the conference decided to maintain current production levels unchanged for the time being."

Already, oil prices have doubled to $60 a barrel compared to a few months ago. They rose even higher after OPEC's announcement - to more than $63 a barrel in Europe in the early afternoon.

OPEC members are expected to reconsider production levels at another meeting, in September.