Russia has no plans to join the OPEC oil-producing cartel, Moscow's Energy Minister Alexander Gavrin said in Caracas Tuesday.
"The cooperation which we currently have with OPEC member states is sufficient," he told reporters ahead of an OPEC summit in the Venezuelan capital starting Wednesday.
"We have no plans to join OPEC," added the minister, whose country has vast oil resources, and who regularly attends meeting of the 11-member cartel as an observer.
He was responding to reports that the summit, only the second such gathering in OPEC's 40-year history, might provide the occasion to accept new members.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, whose country currently holds the OPEC presidency, said in August that Russia could join. Caracas' deputy foreign minister Jorge Valero said Russia's membership of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was under serious consideration.
The Russian minister meanwhile stressed the importance of the Caracas summit for Russia. "This summit is above all a political event which will determine the direction of OPEC in the future.
"We obviously have an interest in what will be the situation in the oil market in the future," he said. And he supported a call for strengthened dialogue between OPEC, which has come under strong pressure boost production to cut soaring prices, and oil-consuming states.
"We should have an understanding between oil-producing and oil-consuming countries. We must have a dialogue," he told a press conference.Other non-OPEC members represented in Caracas are Mexico, Norway, Angola and Oman.
Omani Oil Minister Mohammed bin Hamad al-Rumhy also dismissed suggestions that his country could join OPEC, telling reporters that "cooperating with the organization is more important than being card-carrying member."
OPEC was formed in 1960 comprising five countries. Its 11 members now are: Saudi Arabia, Algeria, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar and Venezuela.—AFP.
©--Agenece France Presse.
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)