OPEC will almost certainly leave output targets unchanged when it meets this week in Luanda, ministers said on Sunday, as robust oil prices offset any concerns in the group about excess supplies.
Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi has yet to arrive in Angola ahead of Tuesday's meeting but he has already made clear he believes the price is right and he sees no need for the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to adjust supply.
Speaking on Sunday, other ministers also took the view they should stick with targets in place since last December.
I don't think so, Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani said on his arrival in Luanda when asked whether OPEC needed to adjust its supply ceiling.
Algerian Energy and Mines Minister Chakib Khelil was more decisive.
There will be no change in OPEC supply of crude oil. OPEC will not reduce supply and it will not increase supply, Khelil told reporters in Algiers before leaving for Luanda.
OPEC delegates speaking on condition of anonymity reinforced the impression Tuesday's meeting should be swift and without major debate.
The price is right, said one.
Delegates also said the Iranian and Kuwaiti oil ministers would not be attending Tuesday's meeting, leaving two of the 12 OPEC members to be represented at delegate rather than ministerial level.
OIL PRICE JUST RIGHT
International benchmark U.S. crude futures have slipped from a year-high of $82 a barrel struck in October, but at above $73 a barrel, they are still close to the range Naimi and others in OPEC have said is high enough for producers to turn a profit and not too high for consumers, still smarting from a global recession.
The (meeting) will not lead to any change in production, Saudi-owned al-Hayat newspaper on Friday quoted Naimi, minister for the world's biggest oil exporter, as saying.
The current price is wanted by all. We are not alone in wanting it, but also those with alternatives and oil difficult to extract. And the oil price of $75 to $80 is something we all want.
Oil fell toward $30 a barrel in December last year, spurring the producer group to announce a record output cut of 4.2 million barrels per day (bpd).
Officially that reduction, representing around 5 percent of oil demand, is still in place, although OPEC's compliance with the target has fallen from historic highs of around 80 percent to roughly 60 percent now as the oil price has rallied.
Some have said Tuesday's OPEC meeting could make the case for tighter compliance.
Others have said OPEC might need to act to reduce excess supply early in 2010.
In a report at the weekend, Washington-based consultancy PFC Energy said OPEC might have to cut oil supply by 1 million bpd early in 2010 if weak demand led to a further rise in oil stockpiles, but it did not anticipate a supply reduction would be agreed in Luanda.
Some members of OPEC will be more comfortable with no action and current price levels than others.
Core Gulf OPEC producers, led by Saudi Arabia, are on course to rack up fiscal surpluses after prices outperformed conservative budget assumptions.
The kingdom is estimated to need a price of only around $50 a barrel to balance its books and avoid deepening foreign debts, compared with more than $80 for Iran and around $100 for Venezuela.
(For graphics showing inventory levels and OPEC spare capacity, please click on
For graphics showing compliance, please click on http://graphics.thomsonreuters.com/129/OIL_OPCPRD1209.gif http://graphics.thomsonreuters.com/129/OIL_OPCOM1209.gif)
(Additional reporting by Simon Webb and Rania El Gamal in Luanda and Hamid Ould Ahmed in Algiers, writing by Barbara Lewis, editing by John Stonestreet)