Oil prices kept plunging Thursday after OPEC countries decided to keep production unchanged despite the more than 30 percent drop in crude prices since June. OPEC decided to hold on to its collective ceiling of 30 million barrels a day at a meeting of the oil-producing countries in Vienna that lasted more than five hours, reports Reuters. “Oil prices are now completely in the hands of the market,” one analyst explained. The decision was not a surprise but seemed to be another demonstration that the “once-powerful cartel is losing the power to push up markets to its own advantage,” notes the Associated Press.
U.S. crude price plunged to $68.2 a barrel and Brent crude dropped to $71.58 after the decision. Oil has been collapsing amid increased output from the United States and signs of weakening demand across the world. And the once all-powerful oil cartel seems unable to stop the slide amid hints that the oil-producing countries are now engaged in a price war. “Unable to come up with a strategy for handling these new developments, the cartel has decided not to intervene, evidently hoping that low prices will eventually curb production in the United States,” notes the New York Times.