News In Brief

Crude oil supplies, which already have been raised four times this year, will not be increased again, key delegates to the OPEC conference in Vienna said. In fact, sources said the cartel - which was expected to postpone its formal session for one day out of respect for the 155 victims of a fatal ski-train fire in the host country - would consider a proposal to cut production in 2001 in case world demand slackens as usual in the spring. Futures prices for crude remain in the $32-a-barrel range on international markets, still well above the $22 to $28 target that the four production hikes this year were designed to achieve. And, at their own conference in Brunei, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation nations called on OPEC to increase supply again because "volatile prices are not in the best interest of either consumers or producers." But Ali Naimi, oil minister of Saudi Arabia, the world's leading producer, said OPEC had the matter "under control" and price stability was just a matter of time, adding: "We don't need doomsayers."

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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