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So, Saudi Arabia really did fail to achieve a consensus at the Opec meeting in Vienna today. Abdalla El Badri, the cartel’s secretary general, has just announced that its production policy will remain unchanged and the member countries were unable to reach any agreement on a proposal to raise their output targets. The deep divisions within Opec, particularly between Saudi Arabia and Iran, appear to have become so poisonous that this organisation is incapable of taking any substantive decision.
I’m in Vienna, waiting for the outcome of the Opec oil ministers’ meeting which began at 10am today. Here’s what we know with reasonable certainty so far:
Saudi Arabia has yet to rally a consensus behind its proposal to increase Opec’s output quotas for the first time in almost four years. The kingdom will have the support of Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. But the two leading “hawks” – Iran and Venezuela – remain unconvinced. Rafael Ramirez, the Venezuelan oil minister, said at the outset of the meeting that he regarded the oil market as being “in balance”. As for the proposed revision of output quotas, Ramirez was clear: “We don’t believe it’s necessary,” he said.
Last month, Nick Clegg cited the government’s Carbon Price Support Mechanism as “exactly an example” of a policy being introduced in an “absolutely predictable” way. This measure, announced in the last budget, will force all polluters to pay more for the carbon dioxide they produce. Clegg told a business audience in London that all emitters would start by paying £16 per tonne in 2013 and the amount would then rise annually until 2020.
In fact, the situation is not quite as simple or as predictable as he suggests.