LONDON (AFP) - World oil prices firmed on Tuesday on the eve of a crucial OPEC meeting in Algeria which could see the crude producers' cartel slash output in a bid to stop the market falling any further, analysts said. Light sweet crude for delivery in January gained 20 cents to 44.71 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX). On London's InterContinental Exchange (ICE), Brent North Sea crude for January added ten cents to 44.70 dollars a barrel. "They're waiting to see what happens," David Johnson, analyst at Macquarie Securities in Hong Kong, said of traders ahead of Wednesday's meeting by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Oran, Algeria. Analysts are forecasting a cut of between one million and two million barrels per day from the cartel's official production quota of 27.3 million barrels in an attempt to lift prices weighed down by global recession worries which have damaged demand for oil. Since July, prices have plunged by about two-thirds in value from record highs above 147 dollars a barrel. Crude futures had briefly bounced above 50 dollars per barrel in New York on Monday for the first time in two weeks, but then retreated as traders pondered a likely OPEC output cut and ongoing economic turmoil. "Oil fell more then 3.8 percent (on Monday) on concern that a potential OPEC output cut may not overcome falling demand for fuels amid recessions in the United States, Japan and Europe," said BetOnMarkets analyst David Evans. "OPEC is set to announce its decision on December 17. The price of oil should stick around the 45 dollars per barrel mark until then." Cartel hawk Venezuela said Tuesday it would support cutting OPEC's daily oil output by at least one million barrels in a bid to halt a plunge in crude prices. Venezuela's oil minister Rafael Ramirez told reporters on arrival in Oran that the cartel had to try and support prices. "In order to do that we should be ready for an important cut," Ramirez said. Asked by how much OPEC should reduce its daily output, he added: "A minimum of one million" barrels. OPEC officials acknowledge that they are in a tight spot as crude prices dwindle in the face of a global economic downturn that has sapped demand for energy in the industrialised world. Several OPEC members heavily dependent on oil exports, notably Nigeria, Ecuador and Venezuela, are being squeezed financially as oil prices have plummeted this year. At the same time, OPEC risks dampening global demand if it cuts supplies because many energy consuming nations are already grappling with recession and need less oil.