Seven OPEC oil ministers called for an emergency meeting of the 13-member cartel in Geneva next Sunday, the United Arab Emirates News Agency reported yesterday.
The conference is expected to try to develop a formula to avert a price war within the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, officials said.
The countries involved in the call were the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Iraq, Indonesia and Nigeria. Oil ministers from those countries held a series of meetings in Bahrain during the weekend.
Iraqi Oil Minister Qassem Ahmed Taqi warned that Saudi Arabia and the six other OPEC members calling the meeting may lower their official base price of $34 a barrel at the emergency session. He said OPEC members who have been undermining the unity of the cartel will have a "last chance" at the meeting to abide by OPEC's production and pricing policies.
Iran and Libya have been at the center of criticism by Saudi Arabia and its allies within OPEC for offering huge price discounts to increase their production quotas despite a shrinking world oil market.
"As much as we hate reducing prices, we may have to decide on such if everything else fails," the official Kuwaiti News Agency quoted Taqi as saying.
But Saudi Oil Minister Ahmed Zaki Yamani said he did not foresee a cut in the base price of $34 a barrel.
Libya's oil minister also attended the talks, but it was unclear whether Libya was supporting the call for a meeting.