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Oil

OPEC leaves 2014 oil output steady despite anticipated Iran, Iraq surge

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has decided not to increase oil production next year. Satisfied with current oil prices, the 12-nation cartel also sees no reason to trim output.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) decided to renew its current oil output cap of 30 million barrels per day (bpd) for the first six months of 2014, the 12-nation cartel announced Wednesday.

In addition, the term of OPEC Secretary General Abdalla el-Badri was extended by one year, the organization said as it ended its annual meeting in Vienna.

OPEC's output decision was widely expected by markets after Saudi Arabia's Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi expressed OPEC members views describing the oil market as in the best situation it could be and at the right price.

Expanded output likely

However, OPEC may have to review its output policy later in 2014 as Iraq and Iran - second and third in the OPEC league - announced they would seek to expand oil production.

“Under any circumstances we will reach 4 million bpd even if the price falls to $20 a barrel,” said Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh.

Iran aims to boost its output to that level once international sanctions over its nuclear program are lifted. Iraq also said it wouldn't cut its output next year, while Libya said it hoped to resume full output after armed separatist groups had stopped blocking production facilities.

Saudi Arabia unconcerned

Despite these announcements, Saudi Arabia's oil minister shrugged off the prospect of a flood of additional oil supply in 2014.

“Everyone is welcome to put in the market what they can. The market is big and has many variables. When one comes in another comes out,” Ali al-Naimi told reporters.

Delegates to the OPEC meeting told Reuters news agency that Saudi Arabia and other core OPEC members did not share Iran and Iraq's optimism about hiking output, expecting the two countries' combined output to increase by not more than 500,000 bpd next year.

They also said that Saudi Arabia would be willing to trim its production to 9 million bpd to make room for Libya and Iraq.

uhe/ipj (Reuters, dpa, AFP)