OPEC, Non-OPEC set informal talks for Algiers

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Members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC and some non-members, such as Russia are due to meet informally in Algiers, Algeria next month.

The meeting will be on the sidelines of the International Energy Forum, taking place 26-28 September. Russia is attending the forum as well.

The informal meeting is taking place amidst the depression in the oil market, caused by over production by oil producers. Previous meetings have failed to shore up market prices.

But there is some good news.

Iran is sending positive signals that it may support joint action to prop up the oil market, sources in OPEC and the oil industry said, potentially aiding efforts to revive a global deal on freezing production levels at talks next month.

OPEC’s third-largest producer has been boosting output after the lifting of Western sanctions in January. Tehran refused to join a previous attempt this year by OPEC plus non-members such as Russia to stabilise production, and talks collapsed in April.

Though Iran has not yet decided whether to join a new effort, Tehran appears to be more willing to reach an understanding with other oil producers, the sources said.

Iran confirmed its participation in the OPEC meeting in Algeria, an OPEC source said on Tuesday.

Venezuelan Oil Minister Eulogio Del Pino last week toured oil-producing countries including Saudi Arabia and Iran to rally support for a deal. Despite rising this year, oil at around $49 a barrel is less than half its level of mid-2014.

“Iran is reaching its pre-sanctions production level soon and after that it can cooperate with the others,” said a source familiar with Iranian thinking after del Pino’s visit to Tehran.

“In general, Iran prefers more actions from the OPEC side rather than just freezing at the maximum production level of all members. If this freezing issue helps prices to improve, Iran by positive words of support, will help.”

Venezuela, whose economy has been hit hard by the oil price collapse, has for months sought to rally producers towards an agreement to limit production.

Del Pino was in Tehran on Aug. 15 before flying to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.

Russia, which in April was ready to freeze production, now wants to see an internal agreement among OPEC before it commits to rejoining an initiative.

“Negotiations are ongoing. I see positive signs coming from OPEC ‘majors’,” said a senior industry source familiar with the discussions, referring to Riyadh and Tehran.

“Russia wants to see an OPEC agreement before committing anything. So (OPEC members) are busy among themselves formulating an agreement.”

OPEC sources say Iran’s participation in a production pact has been the main stumbling block in reaching a deal.

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