Top oil producers agree to freeze output

Saudi Arabia, Russia, Qatar and Venezuela say they are willing to freeze production at January level if others agree.

    Oil prices have dropped below $30 a barrel in recent months, a fall of 70 percent since 2014 [Reuters]
    Oil prices have dropped below $30 a barrel in recent months, a fall of 70 percent since 2014 [Reuters]

    Russia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Venezuela are ready to freeze oil production at January's level if other producers do the same.

    The agreement came after a meeting in Doha on Tuesday.

    Oil prices have dropped below $30 a barrel in recent months, a fall of 70 percent since 2014.

    Counting the Cost - Crude reality: Winners and losers in the oil crisis

    Al Jazeera's Bernard Smith, reporting from Doha, said that the challenge would be to get other producing countries, including Iran, to freeze production as well.

    Iran's IRNA news agency said on Sunday the country had exported its first crude shipment to Europe since it reached a landmark deal last year with world powers.

    IRNA quoted Rokneddin Javadi, Iran's deputy oil minister, as saying the shipment, the first in five years, marked "a new chapter" in Iran's oil industry.

    Javadi said Iran had already reached an agreement to export oil to France, Russia and Spain.

    Iran said in January that it planned to add to its production, which stands at 3.1 million barrels per day (bpd) despite the drop in price, and should not be blamed for further price falls.

    Saadallah al Fathi, a former adviser to Iraq's Ministry of Oil and former head of the Energy Studies Department, OPEC Secretariat, told Al Jazeera that freezing output at January's levels was not going to immediately cut supplies.

    "There is already too much oil on the market," Fathi said.

    "I don't think freezing production is going to mean anything, unless other producers come into the picture. Within the next few weeks or few months I think there will be a flurry of activity to get other producers on board."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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