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A senior Qatari energy official said Sunday that OPEC is watching the oil market closely and stands ready to cut output further when it meets next month.

Mohammed Saleh al-Sada, Qatar’s minister of state for energy and industry affairs, told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Doha that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries “will respond appropriately” to the rapid drop in oil prices.

“If there is a need, actually, to go down, they will not be hesitant to reduce it further,” he said, without saying by how much.

The oil-producing group, he said, was facing difficulties in setting output because of the “unusual situation” of extreme fluctuation in prices. “The volatility is huge,” said al-Sada.

Al-Sada said a “reasonable price” for oil would be $70 a barrel — well above the $37.51 benchmark light, sweet crude settled Friday.

In Kuwait, however, a senior oil official said crude prices are unlikely to rise above $40 per barrel, even if OPEC decides to cut as much as 2 million barrels per day at its meeting next month.

Moussa Marafi, a member of the Supreme Petroleum Council, Kuwait’s highest oil policy-making body, told Annahar newspaper in comments published Sunday that oil prices are being pressured by surging U.S. crude inventories and a lack of compliance to quotas by some OPEC members.

The comments come a day after the oil minister of Venezuela, a traditional price hawk, said it would support new production cuts. Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said the group is worried because commercial inventories are still “very high.”

OPEC members have agreed to slash production by 4.2 million barrels from September levels in an effort to put a floor beneath prices that have tumbled by nearly three-quarters from the record highs they hit over the summer.

The group, which produces about 40 percent of the world’s oil, said last week it has completed about 80 percent of those previously agreed cutbacks.


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