LONDON : World oil prices flattened Thursday before the outcome of a key OPEC meeting in Vienna, as Iran ruled out an output cap while Saudi Arabia expressed satisfaction with the market. Traditionally the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, which pumps around a third of the world's oil, has cut production to boost prices. But few people are expecting an agreement to cap production, amid growing expectations that OPEC will keep the taps open. At about 1015 GMT, US benchmark WT), for delivery in July, was unchanged at $49.01 a barrel. Brent North Sea crude for August delivery rose 11 cents to $49.83 compared with Wednesday's close. "Following Iran's continued output cap intransigence and the generally apathetic attitude of many of OPEC's members -- who seem willing to sit on the current oil price -- Brent crude trickled back below $50," said Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell.

Prices briefly topped $50 last week for the first time this year as production disruptions in Canada and Nigeria eased concerns about abundant global supplies, but they remain less than half of their 2014 peaks.

OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia expressed confidence Thursday that oil prices will keep recovering.

"Everybody is very satisfied with the market. The market is rebalancing as we speak," said Khaled al-Falih, freshly appointed by the kingdom's powerful new crown prince.

"Demand is extremely healthy and robust. Non-OPEC supply is declining. Prices will respond to the rebalancing of the market," Falih told reporters.

Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh meanwhile rejected suggestions OPEC would agree on a general cap in the Austrian capital, saying his country backed a return to a national quota system.

"One of our main ideas is to have country quotas, but I don't think we can reach an agreement on this subject at this meeting," the minister said.

The oil market has slumped from over $100 in 2014 to close to $25 in July, hit by a chronic global supply glut and OPEC's refusal last year to curb production.

"Iran is not interested in formally participating in any supply-limiting scheme until it has reached it pre-sanctions level and the Iranian oil minister repeated the same late yesterday when arriving in Vienna," noted Petromatrix analyst Olivier Jakob.

Experts say OPEC has kept the oil flowing to squeeze competitors -- particularly US shale oil producers -- and retain market share.

Non-OPEC output is falling sharply and prices last week briefly rose above $50 for the first time in six months, although they have softened slightly since.