Trying to Stop a Rolling Barrel

Squabbling OPEC members patch together a shaky agreement

Conditions appeared to be ripe last week for the long-predicted breakup of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. The pressure of OPEC's three-year struggle to prop up global oil prices seemed, at long last, to have fractured the group beyond repair. During the three-day emergency meeting in Geneva, OPEC's ministers let loose an unprecedented public display of insults, accusations and stubbornness. Yet once again the blowup failed to happen, and the group reached some broad agreements. Nonetheless, those accords showed convincingly that OPEC has lost its ability to dictate world oil prices.

To align their official rates with sagging world petroleum...

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