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BRIEFLY

February 09, 1988

OPEC oil production fell sharply last month, mainly because of cutbacks by Persian Gulf exporters, including Saudi Arabia, the International Energy Agency said. The agency attributed the decline to a dropoff in buyer interest in OPEC oil, reflecting what analysts have called a growing unwillingness among oil companies to pay OPEC prices that are well above free-market levels. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' official average price is $18 a barrel, whereas crude of comparable quality is selling in the open market for about $1.50 a barrel less. OPEC production in January was 17 million barrels a day, down from 18.3 million a day in December.

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