The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will leave its current crude oil production levels unchanged, according to a statement released last week
. The organization decided to take a cautious stance in light of expectations that the recovery will be slow and difficult, especially in major industrialized countries.

"There has been some easing of the overhang in crude oil stocks but market fundamentals remain weak, refinery utilization rates are low and product inventories have risen considerably," OPEC said, in its closing statement of its meeting.

OPEC did not feel the market was strong enough to increase its quota for oil production, and it believes the downside risks are too great.

"In doing so, the Conference reiterated its determination to ensure sound supply fundamentals and an adequate level of spare capacity for the benefit of the world at large," the statement said.

Benchmark crude for October delivery rose $3.08 last week to $71.10 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, according to the Associated Press. This is almost twice as much as it was in December of last year, the news service reported.

OPEC will reassess the market situation at its 155th Meeting, to be held in Luanda, Angola, on Dec. 22, 2009.