OPEC agrees dollar talks after forex basket proposal
By Souhail Karam
RIYADH (Reuters) - OPEC states agreed their finance ministers would meet before December 5 to discuss the sliding dollar's impact on their economies after Iran and Venezuela recommended pricing oil against a currency basket.
The ministers would meet before the next gathering of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries' energy ministers in the United Arab Emirates capital, Abu Dhabi, Iraqi Finance Minister Bayan Jabor told Reuters on Sunday.
OPEC Secretary General Abdullah el-Badri confirmed the talks would take place before the Abu Dhabi meeting on December 5.
OPEC excluded any reference to the tumbling dollar in its communique from a Riyadh summit which ended on Sunday, voting down a proposal by Venezuela and Iran to highlight concerns about the currency's impact on oil producers' economies.
Jabor said the two countries also proposed OPEC stop pricing oil in the dollar, which tumbled to record lows on global markets this month.
"There was a proposal from Iran and Venezuela to have a basket of currencies for the pricing of OPEC oil. But a consensus could not be reached," he said.
"Because the final communique was already drafted, there was an agreement that OPEC finance ministers hold a meeting before the oil meeting in the UAE in December to discuss economic issues including the dollar's exchange rate," Jabor said.
Pricing oil against a currency basket was "not specifically on the agenda" of the finance minister's meeting, he said.
Ecuador, which rejoined the cartel at the Riyadh summit after 15 years, backed Venezuela's and Iran's push to have their concerns about the dollar included in the summit communique, Jabor said.
"Other member states discreetly share the same concern," he said declining to elaborate or say what Iraq's position was.
The dollar's drop on global market, including to a record low against the euro, helped fuel oil's rally to a record $98.62 last week. It has also eroded the purchasing power of OPEC members.
OPEC's second-biggest producer Iran has shifted much of the payment received for its oil into other currencies.
Venezuela is more worried about the impact on its export revenues by a decline in the dollar than any economic slowdown in the United States, its biggest crude customer.
Angola's finance minister said earlier that OPEC's finance, foreign and oil ministers would hold more talks on the dollar's weakness after the Abu Dhabi gathering.
"The meetings will analyze a series of issues that different leaders have raised during the discussions in Riyadh," Jose Pedro de Morais told Reuters. "The weakening dollar being one of them.
"The (Riyadh) conference did not discuss changing the pricing of oil sales. The future meetings will not include shifting to a new pricing mechanism in their agenda."