OSAKA, Japan (AP) -- Rejecting calls from the West to put more oil on the market and give consumers relief on their fuel bills, OPEC decided Thursday to leave output unchanged -- with top producer Saudi Arabia saying current prices are good for buyers and sellers.
Saudi Oil Minister Ali Naimi said OPEC would like to see its price average $25 per barrel, a "magic number" slightly below the current level but more expensive than oil has been for most of this year.
OPEC agreed in a meeting here to stick with its official supply ceiling of 21.7 million barrels per day, which is being boosted by up to 2 million barrels a day of extra production by members cheating on their output quotas.
Ministers said they would gather again on Dec. 12 to take another look at prices and market supply.
OPEC pledged that more oil would be pumped if the price moves too high.
In an interview on CNN, OPEC President Rilwanu Lukman said no one will try to stop the cheaters for now, because that would nudge up prices and stir more tensions with consuming nations, who fear oil at around $30 per barrel will harm their economies.
"Excess production over the official quota is always a concern for everybody," Lukman said. "If we are to pull this 1.9 to 2 million barrels out of the market, the prices will shoot up."
Earlier, Lukman said OPEC would produce more if the price breaks out of its target range of $22 to $28 per barrel. Premium grades of crude traded on the New York and London futures markets have been higher than that, but OPEC said its benchmark price was just $26.92 on Wednesday.
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