NAM Summit: Host Venezuela seeks support to bolster oil prices

Caracas, Sep 17 (IANS) The Non Aligned Movement (NAM) summit of leaders gets underway in Venezuela’s Margarita Island on Saturday, which will be an occasion for Venezuela to gather support for a global deal to bolster oil prices, Venezuelan Petroleum Minister Eulogio del Pino has said.

Venezuela, currently in the throes of an economic crisis, is host to the 17th NAM Summit, that is expected to bring together leaders from 120 developing countries that are its members.

“Obviously we are going to use this meeting to build consensus,” Del Pino told reporters.

“The focus for the consensus is Algeria, where we hope to reach important stabilisation accords to obtain a fair price for hydrocarbons that all producer countries are seeking,” he said.

During September 26-28, Algeria is to host meetings of the International Energy Forum and the 13-nation Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which are also taking part in the NAM Summit.

Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari is already in Venezuela to attend the summit, during which key issues of concern like terrorism, UN reform, climate change and nuclear disarmament are expected to be discussed, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has said in New Delhi.

“The oil price keeps falling, which hurts us all,” Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa was quoted telling reporters in Quito before leaving for the NAM meeting.

“So we are going to talk in Margarita with bilateral and multilateral meetings between OPEC members and non-OPEC members who are important producers and exporters.”

OPEC member Venezuela, which has the world’s largest proven oil reserves, has been one of the countries worst hit by the fall in crude prices which has left its economy in a crisis.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is battling a brutal recession that has unleashed shortages of food and medicine, coupled with mounting pressure from the centre-right opposition for a referendum to remove him from power.

“I will make the most of the presidency of the movement to continue speaking out against this pro-imperialist right, which is on its knees for imperial interests,” the politically left-leaning Maduro was cited as saying in this regard. He accuses his opponents of plotting a coup against him with American backing.

On Wednesday, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay announced they had stripped Venezuela of the rotating presidency of the South American regional trading group Mercosur.

Oil accounts for 96 per cent of Venezuela’s export earnings, while its price fell by more than two-thirds, from over $100 a barrel to under $30 between June 2014 and January 2016. Prices have recovered somewhat this year, rising to nearly $50 in May, before dropping to just over $40 a barrel in recent weeks.

Amid a global supply glut leading producer Saudi Arabia has recently indicated that there is no output freeze in the offing.

OPEC member Iran, attending the ongoing NAM summit, has been ramping up production to its pre-sanctions levels despite the recent supply glut.

Following its June meeting in Vienna when it decided against an output cut, OPEC, which accounts for 40 per cent of global crude output, said in a statement that its members were committed to a “stable and balanced oil market and that the market is moving through the balancing process”.

The price of the OPEC basket of 13 crudes closed trade on Thursday at $41.67 a barrel.

Instead, the Indian basket, composed of 73 per cent sour grade Dubai and Oman crudes and the rest by sweet grade UK Brent, closed trade on Thursday at $43.39 per barrel, as compared to $44.44 on the previous trading day, as per official data.

As per available data, US West Texas Intermediate fell by 2 per cent on Friday and closed at $43.03 a barrel, after falling to $42.74, the lowest intra-day level since August 11 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude traded at $45.87 a barrel, that is, at 1.6 per cent lower than its previous close on the London ICE Futures Exchange.

It was reported that Iran’s crude oil exports touched a 5-year high in August at 2.11 million barrels per day – up 15 per cent from its July exports.

Amid the recent fluctuation in global oil prices, state-run Indian Oil Corp (IOC) moved in contradictory ways on transport fuels, increasing the price of petrol by 58 paise a litre and decreasing diesel by 31 paise per litre effective from Friday — both at Delhi, with corresponding changes in other states.

–IANS

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