Venezuela Oil Min: OPEC Oil Currency Basket Is Working Proposal

Copyright (c) 2007 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

Venezuela's oil minister said OPEC is considering a currency basket to price the oil produced by its member countries - a discussion they will take up in their upcoming meeting. "That is a proposal we're looking at," Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez told reporters Thursday. Ramirez also said members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries have no need to call for an emergency meeting in the face of high oil prices. "There are no plans for that," he said. Ramirez said that OPEC can't do anything to bring prices down because instability in the Middle East is largely responsible for the current state of the oil market. Separately, the minister said ConocoPhillips (COP) is expected to file for arbitration at any time over nationalized assets in Venezuela. He insisted, however, that the government remains open to an amicable solution. "This doesn't mean we can't continue conversation," Ramirez said. Earlier this year, President Hugo Chavez forced foreign oil companies operating in the Orinoco heavy oil region to sign joint ventures in which state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela is firmly in control. Conoco and Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) objected to the terms and chose to leave. Exxon has already filed for arbitration, and Conoco has said it will do so Nov. 2. The Orinoco heavy oil region is producing roughly 600,000 barrels of oil a day, according to the latest government figures, the minister said.

Copyright (c) 2007 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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