OPEC appeared set Thursday to maintain its oil production ceiling despite a recent dramatic slump in crude prices due to a slowdown in global economic growth and the eurozone debt crisis.
Ahead of the 1400 GMT meeting, oil ministers hinted that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries would likely overcome differences between members and maintain a ceiling of 30 million barrels per day (mbpd).
"For all of us, the goal is to achieve the consensus. This is the goal of our organisation," Angolan Oil Minister Jose Botelho de Vasconcelos told reporters in Vienna, where OPEC is headquartered.
"Last December, the ceiling was (set at) 30 million barrels per day. I think this ceiling is good."
OPEC's dozen nation members are in fact collectively pumping out more than the ceiling, with estimates ranging from between one and three mbpd extra, helping to push down oil prices.
Brent crude prices have slumped $30 since March mainly on expectations of weaker demand caused by the eurozone debt crisis and amid a slowing Chinese economy.
The price of Brent crude oil -- the European benchmark -- has tumbled from $128 a barrel in early March to $96.
"For us a better price is $100, of course," Vasconcelos said, adding that the OPEC ministers might discuss the problem of oversupply.
Libyan Oil Minister Abdel Rahman bin Yezza also expressed concern over falling prices, which reduce OPEC members' revenues.
"We're always worried about the prices, of course," he told reporters, while not specifying his preferred level. "We have to get together and decide," he added.
OPEC members have been divided over how to respond to plunging prices and uncertainties over global energy demand, with kingpin Saudi Arabia recently ramping up production while hawks Venezuela and Iran have called for cuts.
In the first quarter, Saudi output jumped 250,000 barrels per day to 9.9 mbpd from a year earlier, according to OPEC estimates, in anticipation of sanctions on the organisation's second biggest oil producer Iran.
Secretary-General Abdullah El-Badri meanwhile said in Vienna this week that he was "sure" members would reach a consensus.
Asked if the cartel would reach agreement, he replied: "Yes, sure, we can reach it... We have our problems here and there, but at the end of the day, we solve our problems."
OPEC ministers were also discuss at their meeting a replacement for the Libyan El-Badri, who is set to retire at the end of the year.
Four candidates have emerged for the position -- from Ecuador, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
Crude oil prices meanwhile eased lower ahead of the meeting, with Brent just under $97 per barrel, as traders also fretted over elections in crisis-hit Greece on Sunday.
"The market was holding its breath ahead of today's OPEC regular policy meeting in Vienna, at which we expect no changes to the exporting group's current production target of 30 mbpd," said Andrey Kryuchenkov, a commodities analyst at Russian financial group VTB Capital.
Markets are deeply concerned that a victory for anti-austerity parties in Athens could herald the exit of Greece from the euro, creating further turbulence in the currency bloc and lower economic growth and demand for oil.