OPEC Urges Nations to Join Up or Cut Output

ALGIERS (Dow Jones Newswires), December 2, 2008

Algerian Oil Minister Chakib Khelil, the current president of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, on Tuesday urged Russia, Norway and Mexico to join or cut their crude production to show solidarity with the group.

"What we really want is for these countries to become members of OPEC," Khelil said on the sidelines of a conference of the OPEC in Algiers, according to APS news agency.

"I don't see why Russia can't be a full-fledged member of the organization. It's the best way to express solidarity," he said.

If the three countries refuse to join OPEC, they should reduce oil production, Khelil said.

"We don't need an agreement to stand by countries that share the same goal. If they have problems (joining OPEC), they should just apply their intended reductions," he said.

Russia, a top world oil producer, isn't a member of OPEC, but has held regular consultations with the organization.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin last week said Moscow had prepared a draft memorandum on cooperation with the 13-member cartel.

OPEC secretary general Abdalla Salem El-Badri said Monday the cartel may decide on a "major" output cut when it meets in Oran, Algeria, on Dec. 17.

OPEC has already slashed output twice this year by a total of 2 million barrels a day in response to plunging prices but fears remain that a global recession could ravage demand for energy.

Oil prices have fallen under $50 a barrel. 

Copyright (c) 2008 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.