Opec ministers agree 4% cut

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OPEC ministers meeting in Vienna finally appeared last night to have clinched a deal to cut their production quota by 1 million barrels per day to about 23.6 million bpd, writes David Bowen.

The 4.1 per cent cut will mean a real reduction of about 1.5 million bpd, because the quota set in November has been consistently exceeded.

The agreement, which ministers hope to finalise at a further session today, came after three days of hard bargaining, during which Kuwait held out for a higher figure.

Kuwait had refused to cut its own output by 28 per cent as part of an effort to support the oil price. It has now agreed to limit its production to 1.6 million bpd. This compares with 1.5 million bpd set in November but is 400,000 bpd lower than its current claimed output. The market will be watching closely to see if Kuwait enforces its agreed cut.

Kuwait has consistently claimed that its special circumstances mean that it should be exempt from restrictions.

The oil price had dropped sharply yesterday as ministers struggled to persuade Kuwait to agree. Brent oil for April delivery, the international marker, closed in London at dollars 17.97, compared with dollars 18.47 on Friday.