Western oil companies fend off OPEC embargo

OPEC went face-to-face with Western oil companies, and it appears the West blinked.

The cartel had told Western oil companies to buy high-priced oil from Nigeria or face an oil shutoff by OPEC's 13 members.

The Middle East Economic Survey reported earlier that companies involved -- Texaco, Mobil Gulf, and Shell -- had until March 29 to restore purchases from Nigeria.

But as they neared the deadline, Mobil and Gulf announced they had not suspended shipments of oil bought from Nigeria, in statements which appeared to be heading away from confrontation with OPEC.

A spokesman for Mobil said the firm expected to take a load of Nigerian oil by next Thursday. Gulf said it had not suspended Nigerian shipments. Asked whether Mobil had given in to OPEC pressure, the Mobil spokesman said: ''I guess that would be a safe conclusion.''

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