The OPEC oil producers' cartel warned of lingering weakness in the world economy and held its emergency crude output quotas unchanged at its meeting in Luanda.
Delegates also said growing output from Iraq's recovering oilfields, which observers say will become a major concern for other producers, was unlikely to have an impact for several years.
The meeting capped a year of recovery for oil prices, which have risen by more than double since quotas were cut a year ago to stabilize the market during the economic crisis that crippled demand for petroleum products.
Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi, representing the most influential member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, said crude-oil price levels, which have been hovering near $75 U.S., were "perfect."
The new front-month February contract for U.S. crude futures rose 68 cents to settle at $74.40 a barrel yesterday.
But the powerful grouping of Middle Eastern, African and Latin American oil countries issued a statement expressing "great concern" for the world economic outlook, which threatens to weaken demand for their key exports.
"With the world still faced by shrinking industrial production, low private consumption and high unemployment, the conference once again decided to maintain current oil production levels unchanged for the time being," it said.
Observers had said ministers at the meeting would keep an eye on Iraq's oil industry and its plans to ramp up production to levels that could rival those of Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil producer.
But Iraqi Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani and others played down the prospect of a surge from Iraq's oilfields, saying the question of quotas for Iraq was unlikely to be tackled in the immediate future. Iraq is currently exempt from OPEC's system of quotas, but recently signed contracts with foreign companies to start pumping crude oil.