As OPEC heads of state were preparing to officially kick off their summit late on September 27th in Caracas, their respective ministers had put the final touches on the summit communiqué, which will be released on September 28th when the gathering – the second of its nature in OPEC’s 40-year history – concludes.
OPEC oil, foreign and finance ministers convened earlier on September 27th to tweak the final declaration, which will avoid any mention of political controversy within and outside of the group.
The statement will pledge to provide consumers with a secure supply of oil at “fair and stable prices.” However, it’s clear that members of the oil cartel differ among themselves about the definition of fair prices.
Several OPEC heads of state who arrived in Caracas were determined to put a positive light on the summit, amid calls from Western governments for the cartel to do more and concern that European governments may follow Washington’s lead in releasing barrels from its emergency oil reserve.
The summit will not publicly address the issues of current OPEC production or future output plans.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the summit host, said on September 27th that: “There is no confrontation [with consuming nations].” Chavez was expected to talk to French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin about France’s proposal for a producer-consumer dialogue regarding high oil prices and to set up a formal meeting.
Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo was quoted as saying that: “We will make OPEC stronger than it is now and we will ensure the stability of the price of oil.” Obasanjo struck a somewhat moderate tone as well, by saying that today’s high oil prices were not beneficial to either consumers or producers.
Several OPEC officials warned of the potential for the group to cut its output, should European governments tap into their stockpiles and force a price collapse.