Caracas, April 20th 2016 (venezuelanalysis.com) - Venezuelan Oil and Mining Minister Euologio del Pino has accused the US government of deliberately scuppering the efforts of major oil-producing countries to put a cap on global production levels amidst a historic slump in oil prices.
Referring to a major meeting convened between an array of 18 OPEC and non-OPEC countries in Doha on April 17th, Del Pino stated that the US had deliberately put pressure on countries not to attend, as well as to adopt hardline positions against the proposed measures.
“This political agenda is against our country… because it is supposed that by maintaining low oil prices, they will bring the downfall of Venezuela,” said the minister on Tuesday.
“We are very clear that this is a war in which international pressure mechanisms, as we saw yesterday, are being used against countries to obtain political benefits,” he added.
Venezuela has been particularly hard-hit by the slump in the international oil market and was one of the key movers behind last Sunday’s Doha meeting. The country is currently facing a political crisis and economic meltdown due to the near total depletion of its foreign currency earnings.
In February, Venezuela joined Russia, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in negotiating a preliminary deal to keep production at record-high January levels, however the move proved insufficient to stabilise global oil prices.
The February agreement was meant to act as the impetus for a more comprehensive deal last Sunday in Qatar, with the principle aim of freezing global production levels in a bid to raise the international selling price of oil.
But Sunday’s talks unexpectedly collapsed after Saudi Arabia refused to make a deal without the participation of Iran and war-torn Libya.
Despite having previously voiced its general support for a global oil cap, Tehran has consistently maintained that it cannot freeze production at pre-February levels, during which time international sanctions severely inhibited its output.
However Del Pino blamed staunch US ally Saudi Arabia for deliberately putting a wrench in the works at the instructions of Washington, claiming that the Saudi delegation had no real “authority” to make a decision on the matter.
The minister said that trust amongst OPEC nations had been shattered by Saudi’s u-turn.
“The decision that Saudi Arabia took at the last minute, we do not know what kind of pressure they were subjected to, but our President Nicolas Maduro warned on his (television) programme on Tuesday last week of the pressures that countries participating in the meeting were being subjected to,” he explained.
“We cannot rely on the vote of a country which sabotages a meeting of this level at the last minute,” concluded Del Pino, confirming that Venezuela would continue working towards an international stabilisation deal despite being “disappointed” over Sunday’s outcome.
The fallout from the ill-fated talks saw the price of oil plummet once again on Monday.