Before the meeting, Ali Ibrahim al-Nuaimi, Saudi Arabia's oil minister, said that there was only an 80 per cent compliance level with the 2008 cuts - meaning that Opec still has yet to remove about 800,000 barrels per day of production from the market.

Output cut calls

Several producers had called for further slashes to production to drag the price back up after they slumped amid the global economic slowdown. 

Chakib Khelil, Algeria's energy minister, had said that daily output would likely be cut by between 500,000 and 1.5 million barrels as Opec wanted to achieve a target oil price of $80 per barrel.

The worldwide recession and accompanying credit crunch has dragged oil prices far below the record highs of more than $147 per barrel in July. In turn, that has slashed government incomes in Opec nations.

Manouchehr Takin, a senior policy analyst at the Global Energy Studies Centre in London, told Al Jazeera that he did not believe that Opec's decision would cause crude prices to fall further.

"There is another 800,000 barrels a day reduction in implementing the 4.2 million [agreed last year], so there will be less supply coming to the market," he said.

While slashing production could have raised prices in the short term, it may also have lead to further depressing of demand, as struggling economies cut back on expensive crude.

Before the decision, Russia, which is not a member of the bloc, told Opec delegates that it would cut exports while increasing domestic consumption.

Igor Sechin, Russia's deputy prime minister, said Russian oil production had already decreased by 1.9 per cent in the first two months of 2009.

Russia is the world's second largest producer of crude after Saudi Arabia.