Nigeria will call an extraordinary meeting of OPEC if crude oil prices slip any further, the country's oil minister said in an interview with the Financial Times, in a sign of growing alarm over the impact of oil's collapse on oil-producing economies.
"We're already talking with member countries," said Diezani Alison-Madueke in the interview published on Monday. As OPEC president, she is responsible for liaising with member countries and the producer group's secretary-general in the event of an emergency meeting.
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If the price "slips any further it is highly likely that I will have to call an extraordinary meeting of OPEC in the next six weeks or so," she said.
Almost all OPEC countries, except perhaps the Arab bloc, are "very uncomfortable," she said.
The comments are the first public sign of the deepening unease about the oil crisis since Venezuela and Iran last month pushed for the cartel to cut output in a bid to reverse the more than 50-percent drop in prices since June last year.
In November, the 12-member group chose to hold production at 30 million barrels a day. The next official meeting is scheduled for June.
Global benchmark Brent oil prices briefly rose by more than $1 a barrel on the comments, reversing earlier losses, but quickly sank again as dealers doubted whether there was any scope for rapid action given core Gulf OPEC members led by Saudi Arabia have given no sign they are ready to curb production.
Nigeria "obviously needs more money for its oil, but if the Saudis, who control one third of OPEC production, do not go along, what can it do?" said James L. Williams, energy economist at WTRG Economics in London, Arkansas. (Reporting by Josephine Mason, Jonathan Leff and Barani Krishnan; Editing by James Dalgleish)