OPEC Set for Tough Meeting, Further Price Fall Feared

OPEC is heading for a tough meeting this week, delegates and officials said on Tuesday, as country members pump record volumes amid an uncertain demand outlook and as the prospects of a U.S. interest rate hike could push oil prices even lower.

"It will be tough," one OPEC source said, referring to the meeting in Vienna on Friday, which is widely expected by OPEC insiders and watchers to stay the course and roll over existing output policies.

Saudi Arabia's oil minister Ali al-Naimi rebuffed questions after his arrival in Vienna on Tuesday. When asked if Saudi's strategy of defending its market share is working, Naimi responded with questions: "Which strategy?.. Who said we are keeping market share?"

Many non-Gulf OPEC delegates have complained the Saudis impose their views on the organisation.

On Tuesday, Naimi said of the meeting: "We will be there, we will listen and then decide."

A year ago, Saudi Arabia pushed through an OPEC decision to pump more oil and defend market share against surging rival suppliers. The policy has somewhat reduced the pace of the U.S. shale oil boom and non-OPEC supplies are set to decline next year.

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