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Despite last-minute speculation that Opec would raise its widely flouted production ceiling by 1.5mn b/d to 31.5mn b/d, the end result was the continuation of the status quo. Though the 4 December meeting overran by more than an hour, Opec Secretary-General ‘Abd Allah al-Badri said the decision was taken to postpone any such changes until the next Opec meeting, in June 2016. Opting to roll-over the production ceiling, Opec also extended the mandate of Mr Badri until June.
The decision underlines the divisions within Opec, between price-hawks such as Venezuela favoring a production cut, and proponents of market-share prioritization from the Gulf. Whereas Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has called for a 5% cut in production to bolster prices, Saudi Arabia and its allies have stuck to the line that oil prices should be left to market forces. In the words of UAE Energy Minister Suhail al-Mazru’i, “that’s what’s best for the customer”.
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