Spoiling for an Oil-Price War

Threatening to slash prices, some OPEC ministers stir a panic

"A price war? We don't want a fight. It would be very hectic," said Sheik Ahmed Zaki Yamani, Saudi Arabia's oil minister. But chaos is exactly what the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries produced last week when several members of the group threatened to launch an all-out campaign of slashing prices to boost OPEC's declining share of the world oil market. The pronouncement sent petroleum traders into a temporary selling frenzy. On the futures market in New York City, the January-delivery price of West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark crude, took a record two-day plunge of $3.51, to $25.23 per bbl....

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