WRAPUP 1-OPEC diplomacy up from Moscow to Caracas; action unlikely
By Denis Pinchuk and Alexandra Ulmer
MOSCOW/CARACAS, April 15 (Reuters) - Quiet diplomacy among the world's biggest oil producers has heated up this week, yet observers see few signs that renewed discussion among Russia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and others will lead to action on output.
On Wednesday, Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said Moscow has been holding "unprecedentedly active" consultations with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and Latin American producers. The energy minister said he had spoken to OPEC's secretary general several days ago.
Saudi state news agency SPA reported on Tuesday that Saudi Arabian oil minister Ali al-Naimi discussed oil markets with Russia's ambassador to Riyadh, Oleg Ozerov.
And Venezuela's oil minister Asdrubal Chavez met in Caracas with the local ambassadors of eight OPEC members plus Indonesia on Wednesday, the ministry said. Officials later said it was a "courtesy visit" aimed at stimulating investment in the Orinoco Belt. The Russian ambassador was not present.
Although there is no indication the diplomatic huddles were in any way related, the meetings may be a sign of stepped-up pressure for OPEC - and specifically Saudi Arabia - to move toward cutting production when it next meets on June 5.
Nearly four months of sub-$60 a barrel crude oil prices is weighing heavily on cash-strapped producers such as Venezuela and Russia, who failed to coax OPEC into cutting output last November.
Russia stepped up contacts with OPEC after oil prices plunged last year, but has dismissed any suggestion it might cut output to prop up prices, saying it is technically impossible to idle production due to the harsh climate in Siberia.
"Until and unless I hear a producer say they're willing to contribute cuts, I think this is all about trying to spook or shame Saudi Arabia into doing what it has steadfastly said it will not - cut unilaterally," says Bob McNally, president of The Rapidan Group energy consultancy. Continuación...