OPEC's 'Christmas gift' cheaper heat this winter

To the oil-thirsty West, OPEC and price cuts seem a contradiction in terms. But OPEC has cut prices twice in the last six weeks, which should be often enough to convince the world that a new era has arrived.

Monitor contributor T. Elaine Carey reports that last week OPEC announced price reductions ranging between 20 and 70 cents a barrel. But the final translation of the price cuts means that a gallon of gasoline will only be about a half cent cheaper.

Saudi Oil Minister Ahmad Zaki Yamani said the biggest boon to consumers will be cheaper heating oil this winter. That is OPEC's ''Christmas present'' to the West.

The cartel predicts that the currently glutted market will pick up by next summer, but Sheikh Yamani said the days when the highest-quality North African OPEC countries could charge $38 (or the ceiling) for a barrel are ''something of history."

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