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Key Oil Producers Fail to Agree on Production Cuts

Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi gestures as he arrives at his hotel ahead of an OPEC meeting in Vienna Nov. 24, 2014.

The world's biggest oil exporter, Saudi Arabia, and other key producers have failed to agree to cut production as a way to halt the sharp drop in petroleum prices.

Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi met Tuesday in Vienna with key energy officials from Venezuela, Russia and Mexico before Thursday's meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. But the four countries agreed only to monitor world oil prices and meet again in three months.

The 12-nation OPEC cartel, which includes Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, supplies about a third of the world's oil, while Russia and Mexico, which are not OPEC members, are key producers.

Some countries are pressing Riyadh to cut its production to support global oil prices, which have dropped 30 percent since June, to below $80 a barrel.

Russia said Tuesday that it had cut its production by 25,000 barrels a day, but such a small amount is unlikely to affect global prices.

The global price plunge has cut gasoline prices for motorists and has curbed energy costs for businesses. But oil-producing countries dependent on revenues from higher crude oil prices have grown increasingly worried about the steady price drop, which OPEC says is costing its members nearly $1 billion a day.

Analysts say the plunge in prices has been triggered by a glut of oil on the world market, weaker demand for oil with a shaky global economy and increased oil production by the United States.