OPEC finance ministers to keep discussing dollar's fall


By Souhail Karam
Sunday, November 18, 2007


RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- OPEC agreed its finance ministers would discuss the impact of the sliding dollar after Iran and Venezuela failed to win support for a plan to track the price of oil against a currency basket, Iraq's finance minister said.

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, in December, Bayan Jabor told Reuters.

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 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.

The issue of oil priced in a currency basket was not specifically on the agenda of the finance minister's meeting, he said.

Angola's finance minister said earlier that OPEC's finance, foreign and oil ministers discuss the dollar weakness at a series of meetings to be scheduled in Abu Dhabi.

"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."

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