Picture: THINKSTOCK
Picture: THINKSTOCK

QUITO — A meeting between Latin American oil producers to unify the region in backing an output freeze or other measures to bolster prices has been postponed from Friday due to scheduling difficulties, Ecuador’s oil minister said.

The gathering was expected to come ahead of a possible meeting of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) and nonOpec producers in Russia later this month, but the minister said it would be unlikely until about the end of the month.

"One of the problems is that the agendas of the ministers are very complicated," oil minister Carlos Pareja said on Wednesday night.

"I think it could be the end of March or early April." Friday’s meeting in Quito was to involve the region’s main exporters Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico.

It was the first significant sign that nonOPEC producers Colombia and Mexico were involved in an effort to bolster prices, which have been hit hard by worries about global oversupply.

"What’s the idea this Friday? To have a meeting, come up with a manifesto to say that all Latin American countries — Opec and nonOpec — are willing to do something: freeze the production ceiling, cut if necessary, and join any Opec initiative," Mr Pareja had said earlier in the day.

"If the whole oil world decides to take action, believe me this problem will be solved." Ecuador and Venezuela have pushed hard for the Opec, nonOpec meeting because they have suffered more during the recent price plunge than most producers given their heavy reliance on oil. Global prices have fallen 70% since mid-2014.

"There is talk of an Opec, nonOpec meeting in Russia from March 20 or 21," he said. "Our proposal is to unite in a decision aimed at better prices and stabilising the market."

Reuters