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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

OPEC to leave output unchanged - president

OPEC oil producers, content with crude prices now near $73 a barrel, will leave output unchanged at a meeting on Tuesday, cartel ministers said.

"During our meeting we will analyse the situation in the market, but the price is very comfortable," OPEC President Jose Botelho de Vasconcelos told .

Asked if that meant the group was likely to leave output unchanged he replied: "Yes."

"Yes, there is consensus to do nothing," said Algerian Oil Minister Chakib Khelil. "The price is OK for both producers and consumers."

Ministers are scheduled to start meeting at 0830 GMT.

U.S. crude traded at $73 on Tuesday having fluctuated over the past month in the $70-$80 range that many in the Organization of the Petroleum Countries say they prefer.

But some in OPEC are concerned that lax compliance among several member countries with supply allocations agreed late last year is pushing inventory among consumer nations too high.

"Given expectations in the market for demand, which is still pretty weak, in the first part of next year they could come under pressure to do something," said Neil Atkinson of KBC Market Services from the sidelines of the meeting in Luanda.

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