US Energy Secretary Bill Richardson will head to the Middle East to try to persuade OPEC officials not to cut production, a move expected at the oil cartel's meeting next week, the White House said Wednesday.
Richardson will leave Thursday to meet with International Energy Agency member states as well as with ministers from Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Venezuela, the White House said in a statement.
US President Bill Clinton asked Richardson "to continue his diplomatic efforts with major oil producing and consuming countries to increase world stocks, reduce market volatility and improve the market situation," the statement said.
In London, oil prices edged higher, to $24.90 Wednesday, after news of a fall in US crude oil stocks and ahead of next week's Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries meeting that is set to cut production.
In New York, light sweet crude for February delivery was 86 cents higher in early trade, at $28.50 a barrel.
Analysts forecast that an output cut of 1.5 million barrels a day was the most likely outcome of the OPEC meeting in Vienna on January 17, despite calls from some members for cuts of up to two million barrels.—AFP.
©--Agence France Presse.
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