Gulf OPEC States Oppose Group Emergency Meeting

DUBAI - Gulf OPEC members, including Saudi Arabia, oppose an Iranian call for an emergency meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to discuss prices, delegates said Sunday.

"If we were to call for a meeting it would be to discuss oil prices, but...prices are rebounding and will likely rise further due to the political tensions with Iran and the economic situation in Europe," a Gulf OPEC delegate said. "Right now we don't see any need or worry to hold an emergency meeting."

OPEC's president, Iraqi Oil Minister Abdul Kareem Luaiby, has sent members a request by Iran for an emergency meeting, Iraqi OPEC Governor Falah Alamri said Saturday.

Asked if the president has received any feedback from members Mr. Alamri said: "Not yet, the letter was sent only on Thursday."

Iran's oil minister, Rostam Ghasemi, a week ago called for an emergency OPEC meeting to cut output after oil prices fell below $100 a barrel. Ghasemi, however, told the Shana news agency Sunday that there will be no need for OPEC to meet if the current trend of rising oil prices continues.

Delegates from other Gulf countries said they weren't aware of the letter and that their ministers see the market situation and fundamentals as stable.

"Talks about emergency meeting would have made sense a few days ago when prices dropped, but now the idea seems far-fetched," another delegate said.

Benchmark Brent crude Friday was trading at $98.19 per barrel, up from below $90 per barrel a few days earlier.

In recent days, Iran and Algeria have called for a new OPEC meeting--only three weeks after the last gathering--after prices continued to be roiled by economic concerns.

Iran's OPEC Governor Muhammed Ali Khatibi, however, acknowledged that "there has been some improvement in prices," but overall he said "there has been a downward trend. So members are worried."

A non-Gulf OPEC delegate said Iran's call for a meeting is "meant to increase prices, because Iran wants to compensate for the lost oil they cannot export because of sanctions."

Since the last meeting, at which OPEC agreed to maintain its combined production ceiling for its 12 members at 30 million barrels per day, Venezuela has proposed restoring OPEC's price band mechanism at between $80 and $120 per barrel.

"Price band mechanism doesn't make sense," another delegate said. "OPEC cannot determine price. Market players, speculators and other factors determine prices so we cannot go back to an outdated system."

-Hassan Hafidh in Amman contributed to this report.


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