(Reuters) – OPEC officials dismissed suggestions on Thursday that the 50-year-old oil cartel was in danger of extinction after it failed to do a deal on output to contain $118-a-barrel crude.
Talk of the “death of OPEC” ricocheted around the lobbies of the half-dozen Vienna hotels hosting ministers from the Organization of the Exporting Petroleum Countries after talks fell apart on Wednesday.
“We are unhappy that we did not reach a decision but this is not the end of the world,” OPEC Secretary General Abdullah al-Badri told Reuters. “We’ve faced these difficulties many times in the past … I hope we will overcome it.”
But behind the reassurances are real concerns about a fundamental split in OPEC between those keen to prevent high prices damaging long-term fuel demand and those interested in keeping prices as high as possible in the short term.
The former, the Gulf Arab group led by Saudi Arabia allied to the United States, is long-accustomed to getting its way in OPEC. This time it did not.
Easily the cartel’s biggest producer, Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab allies Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar were blocked by an unprecedented alliance of the rest.