Santa Elena de Uairen, January 12th, 2015. (venezuelanalysis.com)- While visiting with Iranian president Hassan Rouhani in Tehran, Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro said Saturday that plummeting oil prices are the product of a “geopolitical war.”
The Iranian leader responded by vowing to join forces with the South American country to “thwart world powers' strategies ... and to stabilize prices at a reasonable level in 2015”.
President Maduro visited the Iranian capital while touring fellow OPEC countries to discuss falling oil prices, which both leaders attribute in part to a production surplus caused by increased US extraction through fracking.
Venezuelan oil, which accounts for over 95 percent of the country’s export earnings, fell last week to under $43 a barrel- less than half of its value in June of 2014.
Despite repeated appeals from Venezuela and other smaller OPEC members and a confirmed surfeit of about a million barrels per day, the cartel of petroleum countries has refused to curtail oil production- a resolution spearheaded by the group’s primary exporter, Saudi Arabia.
During Maduro’s visit, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also opined that the nosedive of Brent crude is not a casual occurrence.
“Our common enemies are using oil as a political ploy,” Khamenei told Maduro Saturday.
The Venezuelan president has also accused the United States of trying to weaken the twelve-state OPEC alliance from the outside. In his meeting with Rouhani, Maduro was reported to have placed his confidence in the group’s diplomatic ties.
“The OPEC is an organization that has managed to maintain its union despite its diversity,” he said, adding that the oil cartel would “continue to playing a stabilizing role…in strengthening the global economy.”
The South American leader also told local reporters that new agreements in tourism, technology and construction were outlined from Tehran.
Qatar & Saudi Arabia
After leaving Iran, president Maduro traveled to Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Though details of the former visit have not been released, the official Saudi Press Agency reported that the Venezuelan leader and the Crown Prince Salman discussed ways to promote cooperation and bilateral ties.
Maduro was much more vocal about is meeting with the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, providing details to TeleSUR reporters this morning from the Government Palace in Doha.
“We’re finalizing a financial alliance with important banks from Qatar that will give us sufficient oxygen to help cover the fall in oil prices and give us the resources we need for the national foreign currency budget,” Maduro said, adding that the two nations had also “strengthened the ties of cooperation to open paths for cultural and touristic exchange.”
A direct flight connecting Caracas and Doha was also announced, to facilitate both business and tourism.
“Qatar has a special fund for investing in agricultural production, so we will develop together…to produce food for the Venezuelan market,” the South American leader concluded.
After leaving Qatar, president Maduro touched down this afternoon in Algeria, where he will meet with president Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
According to local media, the Venezuelan government will announce a new currency exchange system upon the president’s return, in a fresh attempt to combat the country’s high inflation rates.