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15 nations confirm attendance for Moscow meeting

Countries participating in the March 20 meeting in the Russian capital include Russia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Iran and Nigeria

Photo for illustrative purpose only.
Photo for illustrative purpose only.

No fewer than 15 countries have already been confirmed to participate in the meeting between the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) members and other oil producers in Russia, scheduled for March 20 in Moscow.

According to a report in the Nigerian media, among the participating countries are representatives from Russia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Iran and Nigeria.

The meeting is seen as a key step to freezing output at January levels, as agreed by the world's two biggest oil producers, Russia and Saudi Arabia, and later joined by OPEC members, Venezuela and Qatar.

Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, had said earlier that the meeting will take place on March 20 in Moscow to "fine-tune collaborative strategies."

Russia and Venezuela had previously said a meeting of producers would take place to finalise a deal to freeze production.

Crude oil prices rose from their lowest point in 12 years last week in response following the first announcement of plans to freeze output at January levels.

However, tension is still high around the negotiation table, and with every participant looking out for his own interest, anything can be expected from the meeting next Sunday.

Oil last week continued its recent rally, with Brent crude clinging on above $40, but there was speculation that most of the gains of the past two months could be undone if OPEC members and Russia fail to finalise their earlier conditional agreement to freeze production.

Speculations are already rife that the meeting may not hold as many of the countries insist they would not be present unless Iran is present.

The critical factor is Iran. Other countries say they will not meet to discuss joining the freeze unless Tehran agrees to sign up for it too. Kuwait reportedly announced it would join the pact only if every OPEC member, including Iran, is joining.

At present, Iran says it doesn't want to be included in the deal, as it wants to return to pre-sanctions crude output levels.

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