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OPEC Ministers Gather in Algiers

The 14 nations of OPEC meet "informally" in Algiers this week, on the margins of an International Energy Agency meeting. Allegedly, the group will be discussing production caps, in a attempt to shore up prices, and the speculation alone has moved the oil market in recent days. Given the complexity of the situation, however, prices have dropped and risen in a somewhat unpredictable pattern (admittedly the market's usually reacting to public comments, especially from Saudi Arabia -- or Goldman Sachs). The players to watch are Iran, which is just rejoining world markets and will not be enthusiastic about production cuts, the countries in political crises and dire need of cash (eg, Venezuela, Nigeria, and Iraq), and a nation that is not a member of OPEC at all, Russia. It will also be interesting to see if public or leaked statements hint that OPEC players still suspect that the United States is flooding the market as part of a deliberate strategy of market dominance and political destabilization.