Saudi Arabia sees no need to hold a summit of producing countries’ heads of state if such discussions would fail to produce concrete action toward defending oil prices, sources familiar with the matter said.
The comments followed a meeting of Gulf oil ministers in Doha, at which a Venezuelan proposal for an OPEC and non-OPEC summit was discussed.
Oil prices have more than halved since summer last year on an oversupplied market as well as a decision by OPEC to defend market share and discourage competing supply sources, rather than cut its output in the face of cheaper crude.
Riyadh believes it is best not to interfere in the market at present, the sources told Reuters.
One OPEC source said that should such a meeting produce no concrete outcome, it would have a negative impact on prices.
“If we are meeting for the sake of meeting, it would backfire,” the source said.
Qatar’s energy minister earlier said that members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC producers were studying the Venezuelan proposal for a heads-of-state summit to address low oil prices.
“The different countries are studying this proposal and if there was a response from OPEC and outside OPEC then OK,” Qatar’s Mohammed Al-Sada said.
“But we are in the study phase.”
Sada was speaking to reporters after a meeting of ministers from the Gulf Cooperation Council in Doha.
Venezuela has for months been pushing for an emergency OPEC meeting with Russia to stem the tumble in prices.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Saturday he had suggested to the emir of Qatar that an OPEC summit be held, and that the leader of the Arab Gulf state “liked” the idea.
Maduro also suggested non-OPEC countries, including Russia, take part.
Non-Gulf members want OPEC to take action. Algeria has written to OPEC expressing concern about the market and Iran has supported the idea of an emergency meeting.
But the Gulf OPEC members have opposed holding an early meeting and show no sign of changing strategy, especially given the refusal of Russia and other big non-OPEC countries to cut output.
OPEC last held a heads-of-state summit in Saudi Arabia in 2007, when oil prices were on their way to a record high of $147 a barrel reached a year later.
Gulf oil sources see no sign of Saudi Arabia wavering particularly when other OPEC members such as Iraq are raising production, and Iran is gearing up to boost exports by next year.
OPEC’s strategy needs time to work and they are willing to wait, they say.