Al-Naimi to visit Venezuela and Mexico

The sun sets behind an oil drilling rig near Cabimas, Venezuela.

The sun sets behind an oil drilling rig near Cabimas, Venezuela.

CARACAS: Petroleum and Mineral Resources Minister Ali Al-Naimi will visit fellow OPEC producer Venezuela this week to attend a climate conference and also travel to Mexico, according to sources close to the Kingdom.

“He is participating in the Margarita meeting on climate change,” a Caracas-based source close to the Saudi delegation said ahead of the conference that runs from Tuesday to Friday on Margarita island.

The source declined to say whether Al-Naimi would be discussing oil prices.

Both Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Rafael Ramirez, who represents Venezuela in OPEC, and Oil Minister Asdrubal Chavez, have been invited to the conference, according to local authorities.

Ramirez is scheduled to speak at the conference on Tuesday morning, Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

But the source in Caracas could not say if meetings between those ministers and Naimi were planned.

Venezuela has been pushing for an emergency OPEC meeting due to the steep fall in oil prices, but Saudi Arabia has appeared comfortable with lower prices.

Al-Naimi has not publicly spoken about prices since September, before markets entered a tailspin that pushed global benchmark Brent crude to a four-year low at $82.60 a barrel on Oct 16.

Brent traded around $85.50 on Monday in London.

The oil tumble has come at a tough time for Venezuela, which is already grappling with an apparent economic recession, significant debt payments and strict currency controls that have led to shortages of basic goods.

Venezuela and Ecuador are working on a joint proposal to defend oil prices that the two countries will present at the next OPEC meeting on Nov. 27, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Friday.

A Saudi-based source confirmed Al-Naimi was traveling to Venezuela this week, adding without elaborating that he would also be visiting Mexico on an official visit. Mexico is not a member of OPEC.

Al-Naimi will be in Acapulco Nov. 12-14 for an event organized by the Mexican Association of Natural Gas and the Energy Ministry, a diplomatic source and a government source, both in Mexico, said.

A Pemex spokesman said there is no meeting scheduled with the Mexican oil company’s CEO, Emilio Lozoya.

Al-Naimi in the late 1990s helped broker a deal with Venezuela and Mexico to curb production and revive oil prices that had fallen near $10 a barrel.

Al-Naimi was last in Venezuela for a 2006 OPEC meeting hosted by the late president Hugo Chavez.


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