Nigeria and Libya, two countries in West and North Africa, as well as Iran and Venezuela, are pleading with OPEC for special exceptions, as the world’s biggest oil suppliers attempt to reach a deal this week to cut production and bolster prices.
Oil prices have crashed in recent months due to excess production and many have called on OPEC and others to reduce production to increase prices.
But Nigeria, for instance, is holding a presidential election in three months, and its economy, which relies mainly on oil, has been struggling. A further cut would make things worse and deprive states and the federal government of resources they need for the election.
Iran argues that it is currently under U.S. sanctions, and curbing its oil production would be similar to double punishments.
Libya and Venezuela are deep in crisis and social unrest in both countries have made resources needed there now more than ever.
Late Thursday, Saudi Energy Minister Khaled al-Falih said OPEC was debating a cut of about 1 million barrels a day, but the group hadn’t reach a deal on the size of a proposed cut.
There were doubts a deal would be announced by Friday as previously thought.
The debate was whether all member-countries should cut production equally or whether Saudi Arabia and other larger producers should bear most of the burden.
The four countries seeking exemptions, Nigeria, Libya, Iran and Venezuela are yet to agree on their specific cuts.
They fault overproduction from the Saudis and Emiratis for the price crash and think those countries should bear the brunt of cuts.
“OPEC had agreed in its formal meeting earlier Thursday to cut production but deferred naming a number until Friday, when it was scheduled to sit down with Russia. Russia and a group of producers from outside the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries have been working with the cartel for the last two years to meter out production,” The Wall Street Journal said.
Russia and the United States are some of the bigger oil producers but are not members of OPEC.
But oil prices continued to fall on Thursday.
The U.S. benchmark oil price fell 2.6% on Thursday to $51.49 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange while Brent, a gauge of international crude prices, closed 2.4% lower at $60.06 a barrel, WSJ added.
Simon is a renowned international journalist, founder and publisher of TODAY NEWS AFRICA in Washington D.C.