OIL: Saudi Holding Action

As it demonstrated by orchestrating the Arab oil embargo, Saudi Arabia is the kingpin of world petroleum supply and prices. Last week it exercised its power once more, this time against the eleven other members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

At a stormy OPEC meeting of government ministers (see pictures, top and bottom this page) in Quito, Ecuador, the Saudis blocked yet another sizable increase in oil prices—though they had to settle for a tiny one.

It was essentially a holding action. The Saudis have argued that the posted price of oil, on which the taxes and royalties paid...

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