Venezuelan Oil Minister Says Oil Market Oversupply Is 1.5M-1.6M BOPD

VIENNA (Dow Jones Newswires), March 9, 2009

OPEC members need to fully comply with the group's existing oil production cuts, as the world oil market is oversupplied by between 1.5 million and 1.6 million barrels a day, Venezuelan Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said Friday.

Onshore oil inventories are reaching peak levels, while floating oil inventories also are building up, Ramirez said.

The Venezuelan oil minister made his remarks to reporters as he arrived in Vienna Friday. Members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will meet here Sunday to review the group's production policy and determine whether another output cut is necessary.

"Evidently there is still a lot of production in the market, and we will meet to discuss how to drain this," Ramirez said.

OPEC announced three production cuts in late 2008 totaling 4.2 million barrels a day. Many analysts estimate the group's compliance with those reductions at around 80%.

Asked whether Venezuela would propose further cuts in OPEC's production, Ramirez said his country will insist at Sunday's meeting on strict compliance of production quotas.

"At the moment, we don't have full compliance," he said.

To remove excess oil from the market, OPEC will need to strive for 100% compliance, and "then evaluate the destruction of demand and see whether additional measures are needed," Ramirez said.

Venezuela itself has cut more than 300,000 barrels a day and reached "a very good level of compliance," Ramirez said, but added that the country hasn't yet fully complied with its OPEC quota.

Venezuela has implemented production cuts so far in the Orinoco belt, where it extracts extra-heavy crude.

Oil prices are too low, Ramirez said, adding that the floor for oil prices should be $70 a barrel. That price level has been discussed within OPEC, Ramirez said, without elaborating.

Oil demand and prices have tumbled amid global economic turmoil. Oil prices traded around $47 a barrel Friday, $100 a barrel below their record peak in July.

Ramirez Friday also said that non-OPEC countries need to make an effort to cut production in order to reduce oversupply in the market.

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