OPEC's toughest market juggling act looms in 2003

This year will prove the toughest test yet of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' ability to manage the oil supply-demand balance.During the past 3-4 years, OPEC has repeatedly confounded many analysts' skepticism over its ability to calibrate supply to meet demand. Now market-watchers have come to expect the group to accommodate the vagaries of demand shifts, even in today's uncertain economic climate, in defense of its target price band of $22-28/bbl for the OPEC basket of crudes (or, more accurately, Saudi Arabia's pursuit of $25/bbl for that basket).OPEC's Jan. 12 decision to boost quotas did little to quell surging oil prices. Since then, the next-m...

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