Venezuela’s Maduro Concludes Lightening Tour in Push for Oil Output Cap

Maduro visited Azerbaijan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar in a bid to drum up support for a production freeze deal at OPEC's November 30 meeting. 

By Lucas Koerner
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President Maduro meets with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz in Riyadh on Sunday. (@PresidencialVen)
President Maduro meets with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz in Riyadh on Sunday. (@PresidencialVen)

Caracas, October 24, 2016 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro visited Azerbaijan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar over the weekend as part of a tour of fellow oil producing countries aimed at securing a much anticipated output ceiling. 

Last month, OPEC member-states reached a preliminary agreement in Algeria to cap their combined production at between 32.5 and 33 million barrels per day. However, the deal awaits final approval at the cartel’s next meeting November 30 in Vienna. 

Venezuela has been hard hit by the global slump in crude prices over the past year, leading Maduro to spearhead efforts at reaching a collective agreement among major oil producers. 

On Friday, the Venezuelan head of state touched down in Azerbaijani capital of Baku for his first official visit to the central Asian nation. 

Welcomed by Azerbaijani President Ilham Alijev, Maduro concluded a series of agreements aimed at deepening bilateral cooperation, including an exemption on visa requirements for diplomatic, official and service passports between the two countries. 

During the state visit, Alijev expressed support for Maduro’s proposal for an international production cap to boost stagnant crude prices, vowing not to unilaterally increase his nation’s current production levels regardless if a final deal is reached in Vienna. 

Traveling to Tehran on Saturday, Maduro sat down with Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who together with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani endorsed the proposed production cap.

"Iran backs any effort bringing stability, fair price and members' fair share to the oil market,” Rouhani declared.

Since the lifting of US-led sanctions earlier this year, Iran has sought to regain lost market shares by boosting production. However, in recent months, the Middle Eastern nation has changed tunes, supporting the preliminary Algiers agreement in September.

Following his visit to Tehran, Maduro arrived in Riyadh Sunday for bilateral talks with Saudi rulers.

Maduro met with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdulaziz, as well as Oil Minister Khalid al-Falih in order to discuss “areas of bilateral cooperation…including cooperation for the stability of oil markets,” reports Saudi state news SPA.

“We are very close to reaching an agreement between OPEC and non-OPEC countries,” the Venezuelan leader announced.

Maduro’s visit coincided with a visit by Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak who also held joint meetings with Falih. 

Falih suggested that oil producers “are getting closer” to an agreement in November, while his Russian counterpart likewise expressed optimism. However, neither minister has discussed any specifics regarding output numbers.

In April, 18 OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers were on the verge of a deal in Doha to freeze output levels that collapsed last minute over Saudi opposition to Iran’s non-participation, prompting Venezuela to accuse the close US ally of “sabotaging” the initiative.

Analysts have observed that any production freeze agreement without Saudi Arabia– the world’s largest oil producer– is unenforceable.

President Maduro finalized his tour of oil producing nations in Qatar Monday, where he held meetings with the country’s top leaders regarding oil price stabilization, though details have yet to be made public.

Upon departing Doha, the Venezuelan leader traveled to Rome for meetings with Pope Francis regarding the Vatican’s proposed mediation of talks between the socialist government and the right-wing opposition. 

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