By Daniel J. Graeber

(UPI) — Equatorial Guinea has a role to play in oil market stabilization efforts and has support to become a member of OPEC, the Saudi Arabian government said.

Saudi officials hosted the president of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, in Jeddah. According to the officials Saudi Press Agency, both sides discussed restoring balance to a market bogged down by too much supply.

Saudi Arabia is the largest contributor to an agreement coordinated by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to balance the market through managed declines.

“The two countries expressed support for another six-month extension or more for the oil storage to shore up to their historic commercial levels,” the press agency reported. “The Kingdom also lent its support for Equatorial Guinea’s joining OPEC, describing Equatorial Guinea as yet another factor of stability of the oil markets.”

The country has lobbied to join OPEC at least since 2009 and advanced on its regional partnerships last year by hosting a joint African-Arab summit. In December, it joined OPEC efforts as a non-member state by agreeing to cut about 12,000 barrels per day from production.

From the sidelines of a February oil and gas conference for Africa, the country’s energy minister, Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, submitted a formal request to join OPEC. The country, he said, has a “sterling track record” as a supplier and its interests are “fully aligned” with OPEC’s.

The country is the third-largest oil producer regionally and could add at least another 200,000 barrels per day to OPEC if accepted.

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