Azerbaijan refuses to freeze oil production levels

16th February 2016, Comments 0 comments

Energy-rich Azerbaijan refused Tuesday to join global producers Saudi Arabia and Russia in freezing crude output to prevent a further slide in oil prices.

"We are not planning to freeze oil production," the Caspian nation's energy ministry said in a brief statement.

Saudi Arabia, Russia, Qatar, and Venezuela agreed to freeze oil output at January levels in a bid to shore up prices after a 70 percent drop due to chronic oversupply.

The announcement marked the first move between OPEC and non-cartel producers to stem the price fall since it began falling nearly 19 months ago.

However the agreement was conditional to other major producers joining in, and the effort to bring other producers on board may prove complicated.

Oil markets were hoping for a cut, and prices soon resumed their drop. In late London trading benchmark Brent crude oil was down 64 cents to $32.75 a barrel, while the main US contract, WTI, was down 0.43 cents to $29.01.

Ex-Soviet Azerbaijan's government has said it was expecting to produce this year 40.7 million tonnes of oil -- a 2.3-percent decline compared to 2015.

Exports of hydrocarbons constitute up to three quarters of the Azerbaijan government's revenues, making the Caucasus country's economy highly dependent on global energy prices.

As oil prices have fallen to near 13-year lows the manna of petrodollars diminished, and Azerbaijan's once-booming economy quickly hit the skids, the national currency plummeted and inflation soared.

© 2016 AFP

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