OPEC has agreed its first limit on oil output since 2008, sources in the producer group told Reuters. David Pollard reports.
Hopes were already high for a deal - driving oil futures up 5 per cent even as the meeting began. But as sources spoke of that deal being done, five per cent turned into eight - driving crude prices to over 50 dollars a barrel. OPEC apparently responding to a sense among exporting nations that action was imperative. (SOUNDBITE) (English) (PARTLY OVERLAID BY DELEGATES LISTENING TO SPEECH) OPEC PRESIDENT, DR. MOHAMMED BIN SALEH AL-SADA, SAYING: "This will be beneficial to all countries, to our economies, to the global oil market and to the world economy as a whole." The agreement would be the first of its kind in eight years. Saudi Arabia reportedly opened the door - with a compromise over Iran. It now clear to freeze production at the higher, pre-sanctions levels it wanted. And Saudi apparently ready to bear - in its words - a "big hit" on its production. Half a million of the 1.2 million OPEC is now said to be cutting. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PANMURE GORDON CHIEF ECONOMIST, SIMON FRENCH, SAYING: "It will be material action from OPEC to cut production that will bring the market into balance sooner and push oil above 50 (dollars per barrel) and towards 60, the kind of level that a lot of the OPEC producers both want and need." Non-OPEC members also expected to cut - Russia, it's suggested, by 400,000 barrels. But for many the real surprise is OPEC - in the words of one analyst - proving to the the sceptics that it not, after all, dead.