The oil ministers of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) opened their 106th bi-annual conference in Vienna today. Yesterday, until late into the night, there were extended bilateral meetings and consultations. The conference is being attended by three ministers of non-OPEC countries, namely the oil ministers of Russia, Mexico, and Oman, a fact that is considered a sign of oil producers' concern to stabilize the market.
Following the meeting today, it was announced that Algerian Energy and Mines Minister Yousuf Yousufi had been elected OPEC Chairman for the next six months, replacing UAE petroleum minister Obeid Al-Nasri. OPEC's Secretary-General Roland Luqman of Nigeria also announced that the joint final communiqué would not contain any reference to the policy of reducing oil production by 2.6 million barrels per day, but that it would remain in effect for the full year up to June, 1999. For his part, OPEC president-elect Yousuf Yousufi said there is possibility that OPEC member states would reduce production after studying the situation in the market and prescribing appropriate measures to meet market requirements.
The Indonesian petroleum minister remarked that the economic crisis which recently hit several countries in southeast Asia would not continue for more than two years, pointing out that some of these, including Thailand and South Korea, have already witnessed economic recovery. He added that it might not be appropriate, however, to make more reductions in oil production.