OPEC has no plan for special meeting on oil drop: Delegates

OPEC oil exporters have no plans for an emergency meeting to discuss the drop in oil prices before a next scheduled gathering in December, two OPEC delegates said on Monday.

Algerian Energy Minister Salah Khebri said discussions about potentially holding such a meeting were ongoing, state news agency APS reported on Monday as oil prices fell towards $48 a barrel, their lowest since January.

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Algeria is one of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries members which had misgivings about its 2014 shift in policy to defend market share rather than prop up prices, and has been seeking supply cuts.

A worker adjusts the valve of an oil pipe at West Qurna oilfield in Iraq's southern province of Basra.
Atef Hassan | Reuters

Saudi Arabia and the Gulf members which drove the change of tack have shown no sign of softening their stance.

While OPEC countries are in touch with each other to discuss developments in the market, "there is no proposal for an emergency meeting," one of the OPEC delegates said. Another said there was no suggestion of a meeting before the Dec. 4 gathering.

OPEC kept output policy unchanged at its last meeting held in June, despite lobbying by Khebri for a production cut. Oil's collapse from over $100 in June 2014 is more painful for African OPEC countries like Algeria than for Gulf members.

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"Consultations are ongoing to take a decision," APS cited Khebri as saying, when asked about a possible OPEC extraordinary meeting. He did not give further details.

Despite the drop in prices since the last OPEC meeting, officials including Secretary-General Abdullah al-Badri have downplayed the prospect of the group cutting output and said they expect rising demand to support prices.

Algeria, heavily dependent on oil income, has foreign exchange reserves as a cushion against any economic fallout, but the central bank director has warned those reserves may swiftly diminish if oil remains low for a long period.

Its foreign exchange reserves dropped by $19.02 billion to $159.9 billion in the first quarter of 2015 due to the collapse in global crude oil prices.