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OPEC keeps oil output targets steady

OPEC oil ministers reached quick agreement Friday on keeping output targets steady but deferred solutions on how to deal with surging U.S. shale oil production and internal rivalries denting the organization's image of unity.

The 12-nation oil cartel's decision on keeping the status quo on production of 30 million barrels a day was expected. The price for internationally traded benchmark oil is over $100 per barrel, a level most OPEC countries are happy with. Friday, that benchmark, Brent crude, fell $1.80 to close at $100.39 a barrel in London.

OPEC's customers, however, aren't happy with that price. Europe is fighting a stubborn economic downturn and recovery is weak in many other parts of the globe. Most governments consider oil pricey, as do consumers at the gas pump.

OPEC Secretary-General Abdullah Al-Badry said much of the end price was due to add-ons beyond producers' control. "You fill your tank with cost of oil plus taxes," he said.

In a post-meeting statement, the ministers suggested they could hold an emergency meeting on reducing output should market prices fall substantially. Analysts, however, said such a sharp drop in the markets was unlikely in the short run. -- AP

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