STATUS QUO: OPEC agreed to keep crude output at a daily 30 million barrels Wednesday but left it up to its 12 members to voluntarily honor that ceiling without overshooting it.
IRAN STEPS BACK: Iran had sought lower production for the cartel, which would raise prices. It apparently bowed to Saudi Arabia, which wanted to maintain levels. The Saudis effectively set OPEC policy as its largest producer.
DRILLING DOWN: OPEC said members agreed to voluntarily lower production "to ensure market balance and reasonable prices," should future world supply exceed demand. By leaving it up to members to cut back on output if needed, the organization effectively acknowledged that it had given up efforts to act as a unified regulator of the oil market. The 30-million figure already represents overproduction of 11 percent from targets agreed to three years ago, the last time OPEC set production quotas on individual nations.
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