RIYADH (AFP) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has arrived in OPEC’s leading oil producer Saudi Arabia, state media reported on Sunday, after he visited Iran to discuss the impact of plummeting crude prices.
Maduro landed on Saturday in Riyadh where Deputy Crown Prince Moqren bin Abdul Aziz received him, the Saudi Press Agency said.
“The Venezuelan president was accompanied by a number of ministers,” it said, giving no further details.
Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest crude exporter and the biggest producer in the 12-member Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), to which Venezuela and Iran also belong.
While Saudi Arabia says it is financially strong enough to withstand the drop in world oil prices, which fell about 50 per cent last year, the budgets of Venezuela and Iran are under strain.
Venezuela has said it is willing to cut production to support prices but OPEC decided in November to maintain an output ceiling of 30 million barrels per day.
The decision intensified the price slide that began in the middle of the year, blamed on softer growth in demand and a stronger United States dollar as well as oversupply.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, his oil minister and other top officials have criticised Saudi Arabia for not backing steps to bolster prices.
During his meeting with Maduro on Saturday, Rouhani again appeared to single out Riyadh, in remarks carried on the Iranian government’s website.
“Without doubt, cooperation of countries that are on the same line in OPEC can neutralise the plans of some powers who are against OPEC, stabilising a reasonable price for oil in 2015,” Rouhani said.
According to the official remarks, Maduro echoed Rouhani, “calling for the cooperation of oil exporting countries to bring back stability”.
Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi has been quoted as saying it is unfair to expect the cartel to reduce output if non-members, who account for most of the world’s crude production, do not.