By Arab News
By Ghazanfar Ali Khan
Saudi and Nigerian leaders on Tuesday supported efforts to stabilize the oil market.
A consensus to freeze oil production to stabilize crude oil prices was one among several key bilateral and regional issues that were discussed during the talks between Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari here at Al-Yamamah Palace.
King Salman also hosted a luncheon banquet in honor of President Buhari at the palace.
“The summit talks focused on multilateral cooperation within the framework of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC),” said an African diplomat, without giving his name.
He said that the Kingdom and Nigeria are important members of OPEC.
“There is a need to stabilize oil prices as the prices have slumped by more than 70 percent to near $30 a barrel over the past 18 months,” said the diplomat, while referring to the talks.
SPA reported that “the talks focused on prospects of cooperation between the two countries in various fields and the latest developments in Islamic and international arenas.”
The Saudi-Nigerian consultation touched on the potential output freeze, which aims to stabilize a market in which prices have fallen to their lowest levels in nearly 13 years.
Saudi Arabia and Nigeria are committed to a stable oil market and efforts to support a price rebound, Garba Shehu, a spokesman for President Buhari said in Lagos.
“The two leaders accepted the fact that their two economies are tied to oil and that all cannot be well with both countries when the world oil market is unstable,” said the spokesman
“They therefore committed themselves to doing all that is possible to stabilize the market and rebound the oil price,” he was quoted as saying in a Reuters report.
President Buhari is accompanied by Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, junior oil minister and head of the state-run oil firm.
Buhari, who started his week-long official visit to Saudi Arabia and Qatar on Monday from Riyadh, left later on Tuesday for Madinah.
The Nigerian president will travel to the holy city of Makkah for Umrah on Thursday. The talks and the luncheon banquet hosted by King Salman were also attended by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif, deputy premier and minister of interior; Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, National Guard minister; Ibrahim Al-Assaf; finance minister; and Adel Al-Toraifi, minister of culture and information.
The oil price crash has crippled some economies that depend heavily on oil sales for income, such as Nigeria and Venezuela, and even Gulf producers are shoring up their resources to withstand the painful revenue drop.
Nigeria is the 12th largest producer of petroleum in the world and the 8th largest exporter.
Oil plays a large role in the Nigerian economy, accounting for 40 percent of the GDP and 80 percent of Nigerian government earnings.
Poorer OPEC members, including Nigeria, have been hard-hit by the price drop but even the wealthy Gulf states have been forced to adopt austerity measures to cope with falling oil revenues.
“Nigeria, of course, is likely to support such a freeze. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see them voice their support to the freeze agreed in Doha,” Abhishek Deshpande, lead oil market analyst at Natixis in London, told AFP.
Russia, which produces about 10.7 million barrels of oil a day, does not belong to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), in which Saudi Arabia is lead producer and Nigeria a smaller member.
Following his visit to Riyadh, President Buhari is set to fly to Doha to discuss oil price stability with Qatar’s ruler.