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OPEC will keep present output, it says

Associated Press

VIENNA — OPEC ministers decided Sunday not to directly cut oil output in an effort to raise prices, but to focus instead on stopping individual members from producing above their quotas.

The decision was sure to be welcomed by the United States and other major oil consuming countries, because setting lower output limits would have likely resulted in higher crude prices that would jolt the anemic world economy.

Cheap oil has forced many OPEC members to revise government spending and warn that they cannot invest in further oil production.

Cuts agreed on since September were meant to take a daily 4.2 million barrels off the market.

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But the 11 members under production quotas are still overshooting their joint daily target level of just under 25 million barrels by more than 800,000 barrels a day, or 21 percent above formal set limits.

While 100 percent compliance to quotas is unlikely, even an additional 10 percent would take more than 400,000 barrels a day off markets, slicing into oversupply while reducing the price shock that an outright cut in existing quotas would have caused.

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