OPEC crude oil production held steady at 24.73 million barrels a day (b/d) in January, marginally above the organisation’s agreed combined ceiling for October 1993-March 1994, according to the Washington-based Petroleum Finance Company (PFC).

PFC says in the January edition of its monthly market intelligence service that crude oil prices will hit new lows in the next few weeks unless OPEC curtails output immediately.

Analysts say Saudi Arabia is refusing to bend to pressure for it to cut output from 8 million b/d, the level it agreed to trim to for the six- month period covered by the current OPEC agreement. The London-based Centre for Global Energy Studies said in the latest edition of its global oil report that the kingdom is suffering because of low oil prices. But ‘having to take the brunt of output cuts is even more unpalatable,’ it added.

OPEC’s ministerial monitoring committee is due to meet on 25 March to review output strategy for the second quarter of the year. Analysts say that the organisation will have to agree to cut output by at least 1 million b/d if prices are not to fall sharply in the spring. Dated Brent was quoted at $14.65 a barrel at the close in London on 28 January.