Opec meeting next month to rescue falling oil prices

Opec meeting next month to rescue falling oil prices
Qatar's energy minister has said his country will host a meeting between the world's leading oil producers as oil prices stay below $40 and Saudi banks take another hit.
2 min read
16 March, 2016
Doha will host the meeting between the oil giants [Getty]

Opec members and other leading oil producers could be on the verge of an agreement to cut production and halt a tumble in oil prices.

Oil producers are due to meet in Doha on 17 April, Qatar's energy minister Mohammed al-Sada said on Wednesday, following a similar meeting between Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela last month.

An accord was agreed to freeze oil output at January levels, said a statement from Sada, who is also Opec's president.

Fifeteen countries who are responsible for around nearly three-quarters of the world's oil output are "supporting the initiative", Sada said. 

This includes rivals and oil producing giants Saudi Arabia and Russia, who have been at loggerheads over a number of issues, including Moscow's support for the Syrian regime.

Moscow's announcement that it will withdraw the bulk of its miltary force from Syria which has been aiding Bashar al-Assad, will light help fix relations between Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia is in part seen as responsible for the drop in prices, after refusing to cut oil production as US shale oil flooded the market, which has badly hurt Russia's coffers.

However, low oil prices have also impacted negatively on Saudi Arabia.

On Wednesday, Moody's credit ratings agency gave a number of Saudi banks a "negative" score, while the country has embarked on a huge austerity drive along with its Gulf partners.

Russian energy minister Alexander Novak said this week that the meeting will "probably" be held in April.

However, he indicated that Iran could be excluded from a freeze deal to allow it to increase its crude production after Western sanctions over its nuclear programme and returned to the global market in January.

Oil prices have picked up over the past month to $36.93 and $39.21 for Brent crude, after falling below the $30 mark for the first time in a decade.

Agencies contributed to this story.