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The last time that U.S. oil drillers got caught up in a price war orchestrated by Saudi Arabia, it ended badly for the Americans. In 1986, the Saudis opened the spigot and sparked a four-month, 67 percent plunge that left oil just above $10 a barrel. As the Saudis gather with officials from the 11 other OPEC nations in Vienna, analysts are split on whether the group will cut output to lift prices or leave production unchanged to fight for market share with shale drillers.The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, responsible for about 40 percent of the world's output, pumped 31 million barrels a day in October, exceeding its official target of 30 million.In December 1985, Saudi Arabia declared its intention to regain market share, and oil prices began to decline, sinking to as low as $10.42 a barrel in March 1986 from a November 1985 peak of $31.72 .The history helps explain why U.S. producers are blaming Saudi Arabia and OPEC for falling prices now and that they say are designed to push them out of business.The slump isn't, regardless of what U.S. producers say, all the fault of Saudi Arabia or OPEC.The Saudis' contribution was an additional 80,000 barrels. U.S. producers, meanwhile, ramped up output by 621,000 barrels.
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