OPEC agreed on Wednesday to a record cut in oil output of two million barrels a day, Saudi Arabian oil minister Ali al-Nuaimi said.
"There is a consensus on a cut of two million barrels a day," Nuaimi told reporters as a meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries got underway here.
The OPEC cut, which would be its largest ever, could be complemented by combined reductions from non-OPEC members Russia and Azerbaijan of 600,000 barrels a day, which would take 2.6 million barrels of oil off the market.
OPEC ministers called the meeting here to take action against a steady slide in oil prices, which are now 70 percent off their highs of $147 a barrel in July, as demand dries up in recession-hit industrialized consuming nations.
"The purpose of the cut is to bring the market into balance and avoid the gyrations of the price," al-Nuaimi said prior the meeting. "The cut may lead to higher prices or may not."
Others in the group that pumps more than a third of the world's oil said at least two million barrels needed to go from daily output to prevent a massive build in inventories.
"A minimum of two million we think needs to be cut so we can balance the market," Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani told Reuters.
Oil below $50 is uncomfortable for all producing nations, but especially for OPEC members Venezuela and Iran which are dependent on higher prices to fund ambitious domestic programs.
It is hoped that a sharp supply cut will put oil on the path towards $75.
Analysts said a limited recovery in prices would put a bit more strain on a recessionary global economy, but it may help pull the world back from the brink of deflation -- a growing source of concern.