VIENNA (AP) - OPEC oil ministers agreed Thursday to keep their production target steady, in a compromise meant to defuse rivalries between Iran and Saudi Arabia and to send a soothing message to economically troubled consuming nations.
Oil prices have fallen more than 20 percent over the past two months, and a statement from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries citied "downside risks facing the global economy" and ample stocks of crude as being responsible for the trend.
While agreeing to hold the output target steady, however, the statement suggested that OPEC ministers were ready to come together on short notice if prices fell to levels dictating a production cutback. The ministers, it said, "confirmed their readiness to swiftly respond to developments that might place oil market stability in jeopardy."
OPEC accounts for about a third of world crude production and its decision Thursday corresponded with its professed goal of taking volatility out of global oil markets.