CARACAS (AFP) – Venezuela has called for a meeting of Opec and non-Opec countries to address the slide in oil prices, which is adding to the woes facing President Nicolas Maduro’s cash-strapped government.
With the price of Brent crude at less than $80 a barrel, a drop of more than 25 per cent since June, Venezuela and many other major oil producers are feeling the pinch.
“We have coordinated a special meeting of Opec and non-Opec countries to be held very soon to take decisions in defence of oil and oil prices and the world oil market,” Maduro said Monday in a televised address.
“We are defending our industry, our oil, our life.”
He did not give details on when or where the meeting would take place.
Venezuela depends on crude exports for 96 per cent of its foreign currency, and the price crunch has added to the headaches of a government already struggling to halt rampant inflation and ease severe shortages of the food and medicine it relies on oil money to import.
Venezuela and Ecuador have called publicly for Opec, the 12-member cartel of oil-producing countries, to implement a production cut in a bid to prop up prices.
But Opec nations, which hold their next meeting on November 27 in Vienna, are divided on reducing output.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s top producer, has reduced prices on crude exports to the US in a move seen by some analysts as an effort to maintain market share as it faces competition from rising shale oil production in the United States.
The US boom in oil extracted from shale rock has helped create a global supply glut and lower prices.
The US pumped 8.8 million barrels of crude a day in September, putting it among the world’s top producers.
Its output has risen nearly 60 per cent since 2008.
Maduro said Venezuelan Foreign Minister Rafael Ramirez was touring various oil-producing countries encouraging their governments to take action to increase prices.
His tour includes Algeria, Qatar, Iran and non-Opec member Russia.