ABUJA, Nigeria – With gasoline prices already inching up ahead of the holiday season, consumers got a bit of bad news on Friday when an OPEC oil minister indicated the group may cut oil output again.
Lower supplies of crude lead to higher oil prices, which translate into more pain at the pump.
The president of the oil cartel said he expects a cut of at least 500,000 barrels a day.
The specific amount will be decided at the OPEC meeting scheduled for this month in Nigeria's capital, he said.
"There is likely to be some further trimming, the actual amount will depend on the circumstances," said Edmund Daukoru, who is Nigeria's oil minister and president of the 11-member Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
On Thursday, Venezuelan oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said OPEC could cut production by 500,000 barrels a day when it meets in Dec. 14 in Abuja, and Daukoru agreed.
"I don't expect anything less" than 500,000 barrels per day to be cut, Daukoru told reporters.
Oil prices retreated Friday amid profit taking and easing worries that OPEC will significantly reduce output to boost prices.
Prices had jumped to two-month highs on Thursday on news of declining U.S. fuel inventories and the approach of the Northern Hemisphere winter, when heating fuel demand rises.
But by afternoon Friday in Europe, light, sweet crude for January delivery was down 72 cents to US$62.41 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Thursday that OPEC members had reached a consensus to keep oil prices at US$50 a barrel. The weekly average for the OPEC basket price this week currently stands above US$56 a barrel.
Nigeria is Africa's biggest oil exporter, but its usual 2.5 million barrels of output per day have been cut by 25 percent because of a wave of militant attacks and kidnappings since the beginning of the year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.