OPEC ministers meeting in Vienna this week were expected to keep supply targets intact and instead rely on hoped-for economic growth to sustain oil prices.

The oil market held around $68 a barrel on Monday after Group of 20 finance leaders said at a weekend meeting they would not end stimulus plans until recovery was well established.

Traders predicted the extended financial support would translate into higher fuel demand.

There is a general consensus to no further cuts, Kuwait's oil minister told reporters before boarding a flight to Vienna.

On arrival in the Austrian capital, he also ruled out an output increase, although that was widely regarded as the least likely outcome of Wednesday's meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Delegates also predicted no change.

As long is the price is around $70, then the ministers are happy, one delegate said.

They might be worried about inventories, but they won't discuss future cuts here. They can have an extraordinary meeting if they want to do that or they can talk about it in Angola in December.

After this week, OPEC's next scheduled talks are in Luanda at the end of the year.


OPEC has kept official output targets steady since it announced late last year a record cut of 4.2 million barrels per day from September 2008 production.

But as the oil market has recovered from a low of $32.40 in December -- its weakest in nearly five years -- to this year's peak of $75 hit in August, it has reduced levels of compliance with agreed curbs from a peak of 80 percent of agreed cuts to less than 70 percent.

The lapsing discipline has contributed to an inventory build that has taken stocks to the equivalent of nearly 62 days of forward cover, according to the International Energy Agency. That is around 10 days more than OPEC views as comfortable.

Gary Ross, CEO of U.S.-based consultancy PIRA Energy, said prices would be a lot higher, more than $100, if stocks had fallen to the kind of level OPEC had wanted.

You can't say the price is too high. The E.U. and the U.S. aren't saying much different in terms of what they want, he said.

OPEC's happy, everybody's happy, so why change it?

Ross predicted inventories would decline in the peak demand northern hemisphere winter and the price would continue to rise.

I'm very bullish on the economy and I'm expecting corporate profit revisions for the third quarter, he said.

For some in OPEC high stocks are a greater issue than they are for others, although all members have been pleasantly surprised trader optimism has sustained a rally in defiance of bulging inventories.

Leading exporter Saudi Arabia said earlier in the year it was at ease with an oil market around $50, although that level was well below the roughly $75 it has said was needed to stimulate investment in new supplies.

Saudi Arabia has taken the biggest share of output cuts while countenancing sliding discipline from other members, notably from OPEC president Angola.

The different levels of adherence complicate the task of any new cut, although some analysts have said OPEC might have to address when to reduce supplies even if any new curbs will not be agreed this week.

OPEC, which supplies more than one third of the world's oil, also faces the challenge of non-OPEC producers, which ignored the group's appeals to join in attempts to bolster the price.

Output from the largest non-OPEC exporter Russia hit a record high in August of nearly 10 million bpd.

Together with other observer nations, Russia is not invited to this Wednesday's OPEC meeting, scheduled to start at 9.30 p.m. local time (1930 GMT) after Ramadan fasting.

(additional reporting by Rania El Gamal, David Sheppard and Alex Lawler in Vienna and Eman Goma in Kuwait. Writing by Barbara Lewis; editing by William Hardy)