Oil in Troubled Waters: OPEC Talks Stalled as Cartel Copes With Crisis

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The failed Doha negotiations have demonstrated disunity among OPEC members. The conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia prevented the member states from reaching an agreement on "freezing" oil production, with major oil-producing countries gradually losing control over energy markets, German newspaper Die Welt wrote.

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It has become obvious for many OPEC countries that they need cooperation with Moscow in order to overcome the current oil crisis, the article said.

"[…] It is clear to all: in order to achieve a change in the trend of prices, it is necessary to cooperate with Moscow," the newspaper wrote.

In late January, German newspaper Hamburger Abendblatt also noted that cooperation between OPEC countries and Russia is a "prerequisite" for the resolution of the current oil crisis.

"Global cooperation should stabilize oil prices — the success of this OPEC initiative to a large extent depends on Russia," the newspaper wrote.

Following the failed summit, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said that some OPEC countries decided to change their terms at the last moment, trying to get concessions from countries which have decided not to take part in the meeting.

"We were insisting on trying to concentrate on the countries which are [present at the Doha summit]," Novak stressed. "We were expecting more, and we were expecting a deal, rather than heated discussions. But we believe the door remains open."

In order to achieve progress in curbing global oil oversupply, OPEC countries called on non-members to work together to resolve the crisis. The call marks a turning point in the strategy of OPEC countries which in the past 18 months increased their oil production and thus contributed to the oversupply.

According to Die Welt, the OPEC cartel no longer controls the energy markets as its members are too divided to affect the increase or decrease of oil production volumes. For example, Tehran refused to take part in Sunday's meeting in the Qatari capital of Doha, the author noted.

"Since we are not going to sign the plan on freezing oil production, we don't see the need to send our representative to Doha," Iranian Minister of Petroleum Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said earlier as cited by the newspaper.

The recent meeting in Doha involved oil ministers of Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, Algeria and eleven other nations who gathered in the Qatari capital in a bid to stabilize the global market.

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However, the attempt failed after Saudi Arabia and several other Gulf nations refused to sign a deal unless all OPEC members joined including Iran.

Iran's behavior makes the situation more difficult for the Saudis: if they agree to freeze their production, they will lose their market share, which will go to their "sworn enemies," the newspaper wrote.

That is why Saudi Arabia has changed its course and proposed a new draft agreement on oil, which involves the participation of all OPEC members, including Tehran, the article said.

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