• Proposal to increase production rejected by 6 of 12 members
• Analysts foresee Opec’s power base weakening
|Gas prices rising wikimedia image|
Terry Macalister and Heather Stewart
Hopes that Opec would bring relief to motorists and wider western economies from soaring energy prices were today dashed when a crunch meeting of the oil cartel broke up in disarray without the expected agreement to increase crude output.
Political turbulence in North Africa and the Middle East undermined the usual consensus at the meeting in Vienna and led to speculation that new internal rivalries could split the group, leading to even more market chaos.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil producer and influential Opec dove, was outmanoeuvred by Iran, Venezuela, Libya and others, later describing the summit as “one of the worst meetings we have ever had”.
The price of Brent crude soared a further $1.65 to $118.43 a barrel as an expected Opec agreement to raise its production quotas by about 1.5 million barrels a day failed to materialise.