OPEC Rare Summit Discusses Soaring Oil Price
RIYADH (AFP) - OPEC heads of state converged on Riyadh for a rare summit opening yesterday with soaring oil prices and long-term crude supplies high on their agenda amid fresh tensions over member Iran.
The two-day summit, only the third in the organization's 47-year history, will not discuss increasing supplies to cool high prices, ministers have said, leaving the issue for their meeting in Abu Dhabi on December 5.
OPEC's foreign, finance and oil ministers Friday hammered out a draft declaration to be announced at the end of the summit, following a spat between US foe Iran and Saudi Arabia over a proposed reference to the waning dollar.
Saudi Arabia appeared to have prevailed and the dollar is not expected to be mentioned in a final declaration by leaders, but the incident highlighted differences at the heart of the group, which includes both US allies and foes.
Iran's delegation proposed that the final statement should express OPEC's concern over the continuing slide in the US currency, but Saudi Arabia warned this could cause a crash in the dollar.
As the meeting broke up and ministers left, OPEC's Secretary General Abdallah al-Badri was adamant that the dollar would not be mentioned in the final communiqué.
Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil producer, insists that OPEC remain a purely economic forum despite efforts by hawks in the organization, with Venezuela the leader, to politicize it.
The gathering comes at a time of tension on world oil markets, with the cartel under pressure to increase its output to help calm record crude prices that threatened to breach 100 dollars a barrel for the first time last week.
The summit will also debate sharp rises in energy investments at a time when the cartel, which currently pumps 40 percent of world supplies, is required to invest heavily to raise output capacity to meet rising global demand.
Badri told a press conference earlier in the week that OPEC members are undertaking 120 projects in the energy sector worth some 150 billion dollars, adding that project costs have increased by 55 percent since 2000.
Oil prices rose back above 95 dollars with New York's main contract, light sweet crude for December delivery, jumping 1.67 dollars to close at 95.10 dollars per barrel and Brent North Sea crude for January delivery climbed 1.39 dollars to settle at 91.62 dollars per barrel.
The market was also monitoring tensions over Iran.