VIENNA (Reuters) - The most important issue for OPEC is to stabilise the oil market and prompt a draw on global inventories, Venezuela’s oil minister Nelson Martinez said on Thursday.
“The most important issue is to regulate and stabilise the market ... and bring inventories down to their five-year average” Martinez told reporters.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is meeting in Vienna to discuss whether to extend an accord reached in December in which it and 11 non-members agreed to cut oil output by about 1.8 million barrels per day in the first half of 2017.
“This is a problem for producers, rather than exporters. For the first time those of us that have oil-producing facilities in our countries are conscious of the need to regulate and stabilise the market ... and lower our production so as to drain inventory levels to their five-year average.”
Martinez said Venezuela, which is suffering from deep recession and has seen thousands take to the streets daily in protest, is currently producing around 1.97 million barrels per day of crude.
Martinez said he expected the current deal to be extended by nine months, but that six months “was an option”.
Reporting by Ernest Scheyder in VIENNA; Writing by Amanda Cooper; Editing by Jane Merriman