OPEC has decided to cut its official crude oil production by around 4 percent in an effort to buttress prices, but delegates adjourned a Friday meeting without reaching a final agreement on details of the planned decrease.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is seeking to keep prices from falling despite a seasonal weakness in demand and an overall decline in global economic growth.
OPEC oil ministers refused to disclose how many barrels of oil they were considering removing from global markets, but several delegates have suggested that OPEC's production cut would equal at least 1-million barrels a day, or 4 percent.
"We will tell you the number in the official communique in less than 24 hours," Saudi Arabi OPEC Secretary General Ali Rodriguez said that total output cuts by OPEC members combined with major non-OPEC producers could total 1.5-million barrels a day, a number that Iran's oil minister Bijan Namdar Zangeneh suggested was correct.
"We are arriving at a number but we need to finalize some details. That is all," Rodriguez said. The session will resume today.
OPEC members pump almost 40 percent of the world's oil, and what they decide will have an impact on retail prices for gasoline and other refined products in importing countries like the United States.
OPEC's current quota is 25.2-million barrels a day. If it trims much more than 1-million barrels from that amount, it might cause prices to "slingshot" higher, said Mike Rothman, head of energy research at Merrill Lynch in New York.
OPEC has tried to keep its basket of seven crude oils trading in a price band of between $22 and $28 a barrel. The basket fell to $22.77 per barrel Thursday.