OPEC Waits Till March to Gauge Cut Impact

OPEC will wait until March to gauge the impact of an output cut implemented on Feb. 1 before deciding on any further action, Qatar's Energy Minister Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah said on Monday.

"It is too early to say and we have to wait for a few weeks to see how the market will stabilise," Attiyah told reporters in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates.

"Prices now are fluctuating and dropped dramatically in the last few months because of the very mild winter and now it (the oil price) has come back again. We will see from now until March and then we'll decide," he said.

Attiyah said he believed all members were sticking to OPEC's output cuts and saw no need for an emergency meeting of the cartel, which pumps over a third of the world's oil.

OPEC is cutting supplies in two steps - by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) from Nov. 1 and 500,000 bpd from Feb. 1.

Having hit an all-time high of $78.40 a barrel in July, when fighting flared in Lebanon, oil tumbled below $50 on Jan. 18 because of the mild northern winter and a shift in speculative investments.

But prices have rallied since, and steadied above $59 on Monday on forecasts of more cold weather in the United States and concern over supply from Iran and Nigeria.

Attiyah also said Qatar, which has the world's third-largest natural gas reserves after Russia and Iran, saw no need for an OPEC-style cartel of gas producers, an idea floated last week by Iran's supreme leader.

Gas producers could instead strengthen and develop the Gas Exporting Country Forum which was formed in 2001, he said.

"We do not see the need for the creation of a gas organisation (similar to OPEC) because the issue of gas is more complex...," Attiyah said.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei suggested last week Iran and Russia establish a structure to cooperate on gas output much as OPEC members do on oil production.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the idea of a group of gas producers is interesting but he does not want to see a cartel like OPEC.