VIENNA: OPEC announced Thursday it would keep its oil output ceiling unchanged and vowed to eliminate overproduction as it sought to halt falling oil prices amid a weak global economy and eurozone debt crisis.
The 12-nation Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which pumps one third of the world's oil, said in a statement it would keep its output ceiling at the 30 million barrels per day (mbpd) first agreed in December.
Some member countries "know they are producing 31.6 mbpd and they have been asked to reduce the 1.6," OPEC secretary-general Abdullah El-Badri said at a news conference.
"The countries that are participating in 1.6 (mbpd), we will not mention them, but they will come back to 30 mbpd. They agree. This is a collective decision," he added.
Kingpin Saudi Arabia recently ramped up production amid divisions between OPEC members over how to respond to plunging prices and uncertainties over global energy demand.
"Downside risks facing the global economy... continue to mount," OPEC said in its statement explaining the decision to leave the ceiling unchanged.
"Ongoing challenges to world economic recovery, coupled with the presence of ample supply of crude in the market, have led to the marked and steady fall in oil prices," it added.
The price of Brent crude oil has tumbled from $128 a barrel in early March to $96, mainly on expectations of weaker demand caused by the euro's troubles and amid a slowing Chinese economy.
"We discussed intensively the situation of the market, the economic situation in the eurozone, the overproduction in the market, and the most important thing is that we decided to maintain the ceiling of OPEC production," Venezuelan Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez told journalists as he left the conference.
Without elaborating, Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said he was "happy".
The next OPEC ministerial meeting will be held in Vienna on December 12, El-Badri also said.
The election of a new secretary-general to replace El-Badri, whose mandate expires at the end of the year, was delayed until then. (AFP)