Dubai and Al-Khobar, Reuters/Asharq Al-Awsat—OPEC hawks Iran and Venezuela on Saturday called on fellow crude producers to shore up prices that have plunged more than 30 percent to four-years low ahead of an OPEC meeting later this month.
Oil prices have fallen to below 79 US dollars on abundant and weak demand from 115 dollars a barrel in June. Skepticism that OPEC will cut supply when it meets on November 27 have also weighed on the prices.
So far, only Kuwait and Iran have said a reduction is unlikely, while a Libyan OPEC official, Venezuela and Ecuador have all called for OPEC to cut output.
Privately, some delegates are talking of the need for some action, although they warn an agreement will not be easy to reach.
In comments reported by Iran Oil Ministry’s news agency, Shana, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Rafael Ramírez, speaking in Iran, said Tehran and Caracas hold a common stance on the oil market.
“We believe that the prices are at a very low level and instability in the market is in no one’s interest,” Ramírez told Shana. “A hundred dollars per barrel is the desirable price for Venezuela.”
Iran Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh made similar remarks.
“It is difficult to go back to the old [oil] prices but we should try to fix the prices as much as the current market situation allows,” Zanganeh said.
Ramírez, Venezuela’s main representative at OPEC—and until September was the country’s oil minister—has embarked on an oil diplomacy tour ahead of the OPEC meeting.
He visited Algeria and Qatar and was due to visit Russia after Iran.
Iran’s Zanganeh also visited Qatar and Kuwait this week in a bid to win support for stabilizing oil markets.
Ramírez later told Venezuela’s Telesur TV channel that he would continue to coordinate actions to defend the oil price which were falling “for no apparent reason”.
Iran, Venezuela and other oil producers need higher oil prices to balance their budgets than fellow OPEC members Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab producers.
But Riyadh has repeatedly said it too believes the 100-dollar mark to constitute the fairest price for both producers and consumers.
Independent Kuwaiti oil analyst Kamel Al-Harami told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Everyone has now started making their moves. The visits to the region are becoming more regular, especially to Saudi Arabia.”
“But all these diplomatic efforts might not work because Saudi Arabia has been honest with everyone and has said it wants all OPEC member states to share with it the burdens of lowering production,” he added.
The Kingdom has repeatedly called on a united front from all OPEC members if production among members is to be cut in a bid to raise prices.
The OPEC meeting may revive memories of a 2011 meeting which Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi described as one of the worst after Gulf countries were blocked from reaching a deal by a majority including Iran, Venezuela, Algeria and Ecuador.
Naimi on Wednesday reaffirmed the Kingdom’s longstanding policy of seeking stable global markets.
Additional reporting from Al-Khobar by Wael Mahdi.