Despite this, the price of oil on the world market has fallen significantly below the OPEC price. This could be seen by the market prices for Arab heavy oil and Arab light oil, the two standards quoted most often by OPEC and by others in the oil business. On Wednesday, Arab light oil was selling for $26.70 a barrel, $1.30 below the official OPEC price. Arab heavy oil was selling for $25 a barrel, $1.50 below the official OPEC price.
The combination of lower production and lower prices has upset Saudi Arabia, which has the largest national oil reserves in the world. To make the OPEC system work, Saudi Arabia has agreed to cut its production when consumer demand is even less than OPEC's self-imposed production limit of 16 million barrels of day. But the Saudi Arabians have had to cut their production even more than they should under the system, for the majority of its fellow OPEC members are selling more than they should under OPEC quotas.
According to many reports, most OPEC ministers have come to the meeting determined to keep the OPEC price at its present level of $28 a barrel for Arab light. But some analysts insist that it no longer matters what OPEC does, for it now supplies barely a third of the non-Communist world's demand for oil.