IUST AS AMERICANS ARE FINALLY beginning to reap the benefits of plunging gasoline pricesincluding more money in their pocketsOPEC is getting ready to squeeze them once again by cutting oil production and driving up prices to refineries. The 13-nation global oil cartelwhich includes Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Iran and Hugo Chavez's Venezuelawill hold an emergency meeting in Vienna Friday to discuss the steep and rapid decline in oil prices.
"The era of cheap oil is finished," Iran's Oil Minister Gholamhossein Nozari boasted on Tuesday. When asked what price Iran would want for its oil, Nozari declared, "The more the better."
"A few member nations have voiced their intentions of pushing for a cut in production, including Qatar, Iran, as well as OPEC's president Chekib Khelil, who said that output could be slashed by as much as 2 million barrels a day," analysts for Raymond James & Associates told MarketWatch.com.
When oil peaked at more than $147 a barrel in July, gas prices soared to above $5 a gallon in some parts of the U.S., and Americans were forced to cut back on driving. With the price of oil at about $73 a barrel on Tuesday, pump prices have fallen to as low as $2.30 a gallon.
The price dip in oiland gasoline finally is working its way into the beleagured American economy, putting a few extra dollars in the hands of consumers just as the home heating and holiday shopping seasons begin.