EghtesadOnline: OPEC’s Secretary-General Mohammed Barkindo will visit members Iran and Qatar next month, just weeks before the group holds informal talks in Algeria, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.
The visit was publicized amid contradictory reports about Iran's participation in the talks next month to coordinate on a plan to prop up prices.
Barkindo, who became the organization’s chief diplomat this month, met earlier this week with Venezuelan Energy Minister Eulogio Del Pino, said the person, who asked not to be identified as the discussions were private, Bloomberg reported.
Del Pino, who has pushed the group to take action for reviving crude prices, has been touring oil-producing countries.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will meet in Algiers during an industry conference scheduled for Sept. 26 to 28.
Oil prices have gained 13% in the past two weeks on speculation the group could revive an agreement to freeze production with non-members such as Russia.
Brent briefly spiked above $50 following reports that Iran was sending positive signals that it may support joint OPEC action to prop up oil prices.
According to Financial Tribune, a similar initiative collapsed in April after Saudi Arabia insisted on the participation of Iran, which at that time refused as it was restoring output previously curbed by sanctions.
The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday cited unnamed OPEC delegates as saying Iran has told OPEC members it would attend talks next month on oil production, adding to hopes for an agreement to curb output.
It added that Iran has circulated a letter to OPEC members, saying it would attend informal talks in Algeria late next month among the group’s members, while some delegates said they were told of Iran’s attendance by high-level OPEC officials.
On Wednesday, Bloomberg reported that Iran is still undecided about the informal talks in Algiers.
"Iran might delay making a decision until the day before the gathering," the report said, citing a spokesman for Iran's Oil Ministry who asked not to be identified.
Iran’s position has not changed since the April talks and while the country supports action to stabilize the market, it has pledged not to join any freeze deal before regaining its pre-sanctions share of OPEC output.
Former OPEC president, Chakib Khelil, said earlier this month that Iran’s efforts to ramp up production this year might make it more receptive to an output cap.