By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — High-stakes talks between oil-producing countries in Qatar aimed at trying to boost global oil prices by capping production have ended without agreement.
Qatar’s Energy Minister Muhammad bin Saleh al-Sada said after six hours of negotiations the top oil producers needed “more time.”
“The general conclusion was that we need more time to consult among ourselves in OPEC and non-OPEC producers,” Sada told a press conference after the end of the talks.
The minister added that OPEC members would meet in Vienna in June to consider a possible freeze.
The April 17 meeting in Doha gathered 18 members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC countries representing about half the world’s oil output.
But the meeting started several hours behind schedule due to what the Qatari news television Al-Jazeera called “divergence in views.”
Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, had demanded that any cap deal must be binding to all producers.
Iran decided not to attend the talks.
Under the plan, Russia and OPEC members like Saudi Arabia would keep production levels at the output levels of January 2016 in an attempt to reduce a glut in global oil supplies that led to falling prices in 2015.
But Iran, a member of OPEC, is insisting that it will not limit its output until it has raised its production to the level before international sanctions were imposed against Tehran over its nuclear program.
“The Doha meeting is for those who want to participate in the production freeze plan… but since Iran is not going to sign up to the plan, the presence of an Iranian representative isn’t necessary,” the Shana news agency quoted Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh as saying.
Those sanctions were lifted under the nuclear accord reached between Iran and world powers in 2015.
Iran now wants to add another million barrels of oil production per day to its current production level.
Meanwhile, Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman said in an interview with Bloomberg published on April 16 that Saudi Arabia will not freeze its oil output unless Iran also does so.
The meeting in Doha follows a February agreement by Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela to push for the freeze in a bid to shore up the prices of crude oil, which earlier this year fell to their lowest levels since 2004.
Qatar said on April 16 that there was “an atmosphere of optimism” on the eve of the meeting.
Kuwait’s acting oil minister, Anas al-Saleh, told reporters upon arrival in Doha that “he was optimistic” a production freeze would be agreed upon at the conference.
But oil prices tumbled on April 15 as traders bet that the meeting in Doha will not result in any effective measures to curb the global oversupply.