Saudi Arabia’s Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi, left, Qatar’s Energy Minister Mohammad bin Saleh al-Sada, and Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak at a joint news conference after their meeting in Doha, Qatar, on Tuesday. Picture: REUTERS
Saudi Arabia’s Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi, left, Qatar’s Energy Minister Mohammad bin Saleh al-Sada, and Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak at a joint news conference after their meeting in Doha, Qatar, on Tuesday. Picture: REUTERS

LONDON — Saudi Arabia and Russia, the world’s biggest crude oil producers, joined Venezuela and Qatar in an agreement to freeze output in an effort to revive prices from a 12-year low. Whether the deal succeeds will depend on Iran, Iraq and other large exporters joining in. This is what some of the world’s biggest producers said after the deal:

• Iran, unshackled from sanctions last month, "will not forego its share of the market", oil ministry news service Shana reported, citing Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh. He will meet his counterparts from Iraq and Venezuela in Tehran on Wednesday.

Iran is the fifth-biggest producer in the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec), pumping 2.86-million barrels a day last month. It was producing 3.8-million barrels a day in 2010, before global sanctions were imposed on exports. Iran plans to increase daily exports by 1-million barrels this year.

• Iraq, Opec’s second-largest producer, was ready to join Saudi Arabia in freezing oil output, or even cut it, if other producers committed to the accord, said an official who asked not to be identified.

Oil Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said last month that Saudi Arabia was showing more flexibility on the issue of output cuts. Iraq increased production to 4.37-million barrels a day last month from 2.4-million at the beginning of 2010, as it seeks to rebuild after years of war and underinvestment.

• Kuwait, Opec’s third-biggest producer, would join the accord and freeze production at 3-million barrels a day, said a person with direct knowledge of the country’s plans. The agreement should last at least three months because Opec needed to understand the market’s reaction and give time for stocks to fall before it could consider cutting supplies, the person said.

• For Saudi Arabia, the deal to freeze output "is simply the beginning of a process to assess in the next few months and decide whether we need other steps to stabilise the market", Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi said after meeting his Russian, Qatari and Venezuelan counterparts in Doha. "We want a stable oil price."

Mr Naimi’s comments fed speculation that the world’s biggest oil producers could eventually take action to revive prices. The kingdom has so far resisted making any cuts in output to boost prices, arguing that it would simply be losing market share unless its rivals also agreed to reduce supplies.

• Qatar’s Energy Minister Mohammed bin Saleh al-Sada said on Tuesday, "We will start intensive communication almost straight away with other major producers, Opec and non-Opec, including Iran and Iraq." The country will lead the monitoring of the output freeze agreement.

Qatar is among Opec’s smallest oil producers, and the world’s largest liquefied natural gas exporter. Most natural gas contracts are linked to oil prices and a slump in prices affects Qatar’s economy.

• Venezuela is among the worst hit by the oil slump, amid concerns the government may default on its debt. The Latin American country has been trying for months to get its fellow Opec members and Russia to cut production. Oil Minister Eulogio Del Pino was part of the talks in Doha on Tuesday and would continue his efforts in meetings with officials from Iraq and Iran on Wednesday, he said.

• Russia will cap output if other producers join, according to a statement from the Russian energy ministry. Rosneft, the country’s largest oil producer, still had questions about the deal and its terms, vice-president Mikhail Leontyev said. Saudi Arabia and Iran would need to give viable guarantees, he said. Russia was pumping crude at record levels of about 10.9-million barrels a day last month.

• Azerbaijan had no plans to freeze its oil production, Natiq Abbasov, the country’s deputy energy minister, said. "Azerbaijan isn’t a large oil producer. So cutting or freezing output won’t change anything," he said.

The country produced 794,000 barrels a day of crude in December.

Bloomberg