Rosneft chief criticises OPEC for 'destabilising markets'

10th February 2015, Comments 0 comments

The President of Russian state-controlled energy company Rosneft Igor Sechin accused OPEC on Tuesday of destabilising oil markets, saying it was under the influence of a small group of Middle Eastern countries.

Speaking in London at an International Petroleum Week event, Sechin said these countries were "forcing all the participants of OPEC to agree with them" and ignoring other nations' interests.

In November the cartel decided to keep production at 30 million barrels a day, rather than cut output to support prices.

Falling oil prices have caused difficulties for producer countries including non-OPEC member Russia, but Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states want to keep production high to protect market share.

"It has got groups of Middle East countries that want to dominate it and in some instances they don't take on board interest of other members of OPEC," Sechin said.

"Recently their policy brought about destabilisation of the market."

Group member Venezuela had failed to convince fellow OPEC countries to lower production targets before the November meeting.

Sechin said that though the cartel was still significant, as its members produce almost 40 percent of the world's crude oil, it had nevertheless "lost its teeth".

Countries who are not members of OPEC can attend the meetings of oil ministers but do not participate in closed sessions where production targets are decided.

Sechin said Russia had asked OPEC for observer status, but had instead been asked to join -- something Sechin said was impossible.

"We can't operate as OPEC does because our oil industry is privatised and we have international shareholders," Sechin said.

He added that he hoped cooperation between Russia and OPEC would become more efficient and that Russia would be happy to have observer status.

No observer country seems to have participated in the ministerial meetings of OPEC in recent years, though countries outside the cartel such as Russia, Oman and Norway have attended in the past.

© 2015 AFP

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