LatAm oil producer meeting postponed due to scheduling difficulties

QUITO (Reuters) - A meeting between Latin American oil producers to unify the region in backing an output freeze or other measures to bolster prices has been postponed from Friday due to scheduling difficulties, Ecuador’s oil minister said.

Ecuador's Minister of Hydrocarbons Carlos Pareja Yannuzzelli talks to journalists during a meeting of OPEC oil ministers in Vienna, Austria, December 4, 2015. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader

The gathering was expected to come ahead of a possible meeting of OPEC and non-OPEC producers in Russia later this month, but the minister said it would be unlikely until around month-end.

“One of the problems is that the agendas of the ministers are very complicated,” oil minister Carlos Pareja told Reuters late on Wednesday.

“I think it could be the end of March or early April.”

Friday’s meeting in Quito was to involve the region’s main exporters Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico.

It was the first significant sign that non-OPEC producers Colombia and Mexico were involved in an effort to bolster prices, which have been hit hard by worries about global oversupply.

“What’s the idea this Friday? To have a meeting, come up with a manifesto to say that all Latin American countries - OPEC and non-OPEC - are willing to do something: freeze the production ceiling, cut if necessary, and join any OPEC initiative,” Carlos Pareja had told a local radio station earlier in the day.

“If the whole oil world decides to take action, believe me this problem will be solved.”

Ecuador and Venezuela have pushed hard for the OPEC, non-OPEC meeting because they have suffered more during the recent price plunge than most producers given their heavy reliance on oil. Global prices have fallen 70 percent since mid-2014.

“There is talk of an OPEC, non-OPEC meeting in Russia from March 20 or 21,” he said. “Our proposal is to unite in a decision aimed at better prices and stabilizing the market.”

Writing by Girish Gupta; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne, Alan Crosby and Joseph Radford