Iraq says would consider deal on global oil cuts but it is still elusive

Wed Jan 27, 2016 10:37am EST
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By Samia Nakhoul and Maher Chmaytelli

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq is ready to take part in an extraordinary OPEC meeting and even reduce its fast-growing oil output if all OPEC and non-OPEC members agree - a deal which at this stage seems elusive, the country's finance minister said on Wednesday.

Hoshiyar Zebari also told Reuters in an interview there are "encouraging signs" that crude prices could rebound this spring on lower output from higher cost U.S. shale oil producers. He said Iraq was willing to take part in meetings that Venezuela has called for in order to lift oil prices that have plunged to 12-year lows.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries said it was considering a request from cash-strapped Venezuela to hold an emergency meeting. Venezuela has also called for a meeting of OPEC and non-OPEC nations in February.

OPEC's second-largest oil exporter, Iraq, produces about 4 million barrels a day of crude from central and southern regions where the industry is under the control of the Baghdad government, the oil ministry says. The self-ruled Kurdish region in the north produces 600,000 barrels a day, sold independently from Baghdad's central government.

"Iraq is a founding member of OPEC, so we will definitely take part, and the idea would be to reduce production actually to impact the oil price," Zebari said.

"Not sure we will say yes to Venezuela because we need to produce more, because of the challenges we have, but if we believe there would be a consensus, a collective decision then we might go with it."

So far, only Algeria and Venezuela have clearly expressed support for a production cut. Fellow OPEC member Saudi Arabia and Russia, a non-OPEC exporter, have not, Zebari said.

The decision to cut production "needs to be a collective one, otherwise it will not work; it doesn't seem there is a consensus, apart from Venezuela, Algeria," Zebari said.   Continued...

Iraq's Finance Minister Hoshiyar Zebari speaks during a news conference in Baghdad January 21, 2016.  REUTERS/Khalid al-Mousily