Venezuela blames Saudis, US for oil freeze flop

OREANDA-NEWS. April 20, 2016. Venezuela is blaming Saudi Arabia and the US for the failure of oil producers to sign a price-stabilizing agreement to freeze crude production.

Caracas was one of the architects of the ill-fated proposal that 18 Opec and non-Opec producers had considered during a meeting in Doha on 17 April.

Saudi Arabia is responsible for Doha's failure to reach any agreement, Venezuelan energy minister Eulogio Del Pino said in a statement issued overnight, echoing broader interpretations of the debacle.

Del Pino said the Saudi delegation at Doha led by Saudi oil minister Ali Naimi "did not have the authority to decide anything."

But in a bow to routine Venezuelan government pronouncements, Del Pino added that the US "was behind the pressure" to ensure Doha's failure.

The US "has a problem with Venezuela and Russia," Del Pino said. Washington torpedoed a freeze deal "for political reasons and is ignoring the suffering of its own people," Del Pino said. "Ask any oil company in the US. They're very sad because of what happened."

Saudi Arabia along with Venezuela, Russia and Qatar had reached a preliminary freeze agreement in February that served as the springboard for a wider proposed agreement which was supposed to have been signed in Doha. But Riyadh at the eleventh-hour insisted that Iran as well as war-torn Libya also sign on, a stance that ultimately scuttled the deal.

Iran has maintained that it will not cap production until it restores pre-sanctions export levels.

There was no immediate reaction from Riyadh or Washington to Del Pino?s remarks. The White House said yesterday it has no concerns about the outcome of the unsuccessful talks among oil producers on an output freeze, noting rising energy security and fuel efficiency standards in the US.

"We are aware of the political efforts by the producers to coordinate their activities and to maximize the economic standing of their countries. We are conscious of the fact that it has an impact on the US economy," the White House said.

But the administration is focused on energy security in the US and it is crediting its policies with boosting domestic oil and natural gas production "in a way that brings important stability to the overall economy."

The White House also dismissed concerns about a potential negative effect on US oil companies and said any discussion of the effect of low oil prices on the economy was a "welcome respite" from the first six years of Obama's presidency, when oil prices were significantly higher.