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Oil Prices to Continue Dropping

WORLD oil prices could fall to $10 per barrel if the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) fails to cut production soon, European oil traders say.

Prices, which have been hovering at about $14, came under pressure Jan. 24 after a report by industry newsletter Middle East Economic Survey said that Saudi Arabia and Gulf allies were taking such a tough stance that it is not guaranteed that they would cut production in the second quarter.

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OPEC meets March 25 to consider new output quotas for the April-June period when oil demand dips to its seasonal low.

OPEC failure to cut its present ceiling of 24.52 million barrels a day at that meeting would be ``disastrous'' for already-weak prices, a European trader said.

The world benchmark Brent Blend of crude oil fell by some $5 a barrel in 1993 and is now trading around $14. OPEC's own target is to have prices in a range from $18 to $21.