Nevertheless, Sheik Ahmed Zaki Yamani, the oil minister of Saudi Arabia, OPEC's largest producer, said that the agreement by nine of the 13 OPEC members will stabilize prices on the world market.
Many analysts believe that setting a price was less important for OPEC now than holding down its production. Yamani agreed with this, and both he and OPEC President Subroto of Indonesia said the cartel will keep its ceiling on production at 16 million barrels a day. Officials added that an outside auditing agency has been hired to monitor production and pricing by members.
Perhaps out of pride, OPEC took great pains to hide the size of its price decrease. In the past, the standard price of oil-what OPEC called its benchmark price-had been set for a barrel of light crude oil from Saudi Arabia. Prices of higher and lower quality oil were figured around that benchmark.