Venezuela said to request emergency OPEC meeting on oil prices in letter

Venezuela wrote to fellow OPEC producers requesting an emergency meeting as the collapse in oil prices hurts the group’s most vulnerable members, according to five people with knowledge of the matter.

The letter was sent to the 12 other members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, the people said, asking not to be identified as the document isn’t public.

Venezuela has repeatedly called for OPEC members to meet as slumping oil prices sap government revenue. De facto leader Saudi Arabia, which has insisted it won’t cut production unless non-OPEC exporters cooperate, signaled again on Jan. 17 that it will stick to its strategy of defending market share.

Ecuador is the only country to have publicly backed the move since Bloomberg News reported Venezuela’s request for a meeting after President Rafael Correa said Wednesday an output cut would support prices.

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OPEC’s secretariat in Vienna declined to comment.

Venezuela is one of the so-called Fragile Five OPEC members most at risk from significant instability amid the turmoil in prices, according to RBC Capital Markets. That group also includes Libya, Iraq, Nigeria and Algeria.

“It is not the first time and probably not the last time Venezuela will ask for an emergency meeting,” Giovanni Staunovo, an analyst at UBS Group, said by email. While “an extraordinary meeting would just make sense if OPEC is willing to cut,” cooperation from non-OPEC nations has been a prerequisite for Saudi Arabia to curb supply, he said.

Holding an emergency meeting would require approval from all member countries. Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies are unlikely to support an unscheduled meeting, according to three OPEC delegates.

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The price of 13 crudes from OPEC nations languished at $23.85 a barrel on Tuesday, a decline of almost 80 percent since the start of 2014.