Some analysts insist that OPEC cannot regain control of the market until it lowers its price well below that. Moreover, they say, OPEC cannot have any influence on the open market unless it reduces production of oil well below its present 16 million barrels a day.
Meanwhile, there were increasing signs that OPEC, which once had enough power to persuade non-members to follow its pricing lead, is losing some allies. Abdel Hadi Kandil, the oil minister of Egypt, a non-member that has observer status at the cartel's meetings, walked out of the morning session, telling reporters he doubted that Egypt would continue to cooperate with OPEC.
That might please Nigeria, which sells the cartel's lightest oil and feels that it is being undercut by the low prices charged for heavy oil from Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East. To compete, Nigeria, in fact, has been charging customers $2.50 a barrel less than the official OPEC price of $30.50 for a barrel of its oil, a move that has created tension and resentment within OPEC.