(Adds comments by Maduro, oil industry background, details on
CARACAS May 15 Venezuela is pushing for a new
agreement between OPEC and non-OPEC nations to stabilize oil
prices, President Nicolas Maduro said on Friday, in the most
serious indication yet of a renewed drive to boost prices back
to $100 per barrel.
Cash-strapped Venezuela has been a historic price hawk, and
a severe recession and product shortages have heightened
Maduro's need for a market recovery.
"We're currently working on a deal that hopefully can
materialize in June regarding an announcement between OPEC and
some of the most important (oil) producers in the world to
finish stabilizing the market in the second half of the year,"
he said after a meeting with Qatar's emir.
It is unclear how successful these efforts may be now, with
global Brent prices having rebounded by nearly 50 percent from
their January lows to more than $65 a barrel.
His comments come a month after Russian officials said they
had been in "unprecedentedly" active consultation with OPEC
nations, although there has been no tangible result from those
Officials from Russia, the world's second-largest producer,
have given no sign that they are willing to cut.
"It's in the best interest of Venezuela and OPEC for the
price of (oil) to stabilize at 100 (dollars) in the medium
term," said Maduro.
That view is at odds with many others in OPEC, with most
saying they do not expect to see such prices for years to come.
Some OPEC sources have suggested the group's core Gulf members
are hoping for crude to equalize at around $70 a barrel, in line
with what analysts are currently projecting for 2016.
Maduro himself said in January prices would not return to
$100, and told citizens, "God will provide."
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries meets
on June 5 in Vienna. The group in November shot down calls by
price hawks including Venezuela for an output cut.
Ali al-Naimi, the oil minister of OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia,
has said in recent months that he is open to cooperating with
non-OPEC producers to stabilize the market, but that OPEC will
no longer cut output without other nations joining in.
While OPEC and non-OPEC nations agreed to joint output cuts
15 years ago to revive prices that had tumbled to $10 a barrel,
many analysts doubt they have the political will to do so again
- and wonder if Gulf members would trust any pledges to pump
(Reporting by Caracas newsroom; Writing by Alexandra Ulmer;
Editing by Brian Ellsworth and Matthew Lewis)