The international oil cartel Opec has voted to keep production quotas on its 12 member states unchanged in an attempt to preserve oil prices at their current “comfortable” level in an uncertain global economy.

The cartel made its decision at a meeting in Luanda, Angola on 22 December.

In December 2008, the oil cartel voted to cut 4.2 million barrels a day (b/d) from its members’ September 2008 output to bring total output down to a revised level of 24.85 million b/d.

Angola’s petroleum minister Jose Maria Botelho de Vasconcelos chaired the meeting.

“Economic recovery has gathered pace,” he said.

“More OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-Operation & Development] countries are coming out of recession and growth is accelerating in emerging markets, especially in Asia. However, doubts remain about the dynamics of the recovery.”

Oil demand in developing countries is improving, he said, but the major Western economies in the OECD are in “negative [demand] territory” compared with a year ago.

The decision to cut production in 2008 came after a collapse in oil prices from more than $147 a barrel in July 2008 to less than $40 a barrel in December 2008.

Oil prices have moved up to $74.65 a barrel on 23 December, just above the cartel’s target price of $70 a barrel.

Middle East and North African countries dominate the cartel, accounting for eight of its 12 members.