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    Venezuelan Crisis Could Severely Affect Oil Market - Equatorial Guinea Minister

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    LONDON (Sputnik) Anastasia Dmitrieva - Equatorial Guinea's Energy Minister Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima revealed in an interview with a Sputnik the agenda of the upcoming OPEC talks with US shale producers amid US President Donald Trump's "unfair" criticism of the organization and talked about the Venezuelan crisis'impact on the global oil market.

    Sputnik: OPEC and US shale producers are scheduled to meet during the CERAWeek conference in March in Houston, Texas. Will you be there? What is the agenda of the talks?

    Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima: I will be there. What we are telling them is the US is the biggest producer in the world, people cannot continue thinking that we are controlling the price- they are the biggest producers.

    It is for their own benefit to have a stable price, so they can’t just sit and allow, especially their boss in Washington [US President Donald Trump], to do all these things.

    So it’s very important that the US is collaborating with OPEC because clearly it’s not a no-program production. For us it’s really important that the US is recognizing its role, so that’s the [topic of] discussion- cooperation, exchange of information, and make them understand that it’s for their own benefit to have a stable production and stable pricing.

    Sputnik: There’s been talk about the potential NOPEC legislation, as you are well aware. Is there a chance that you can discuss it as well?

    Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima: Our view is like an American saying ‘you don’t stop the party until the fat lady sings’, it’s something like that. When they pass it, then we will talk about it.

    In the meantime, it’s just chat- chat. Once they pass the law, then we will have to evaluate. We do have a lot of the US investment, so it will affect us. In the meantime, I’m not going to say that we are worried.

    Sputnik: Just on Monday, Trump criticized OPEC once again for making oil prices “too high” and at the same time the US pumped record amount of oil. Do you think it is reasonable that Trump is controlling the oil market by saying “this is too high”, “this is too low”?

    Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima: Who is the No. 1 producer in the world right now? The United States. So at this moment, he has to watch his own companies in the US.

    They are the ones who have to produce even more. OPEC and the rest of the producers, we don’t control internal problems. We don’t control the issue with Iran, we don’t control Venezuela, or Libya. We don’t even control The slowdown of China’s economy. So to blame everything on OPEC- it’s not fair.

    Sputnik: Speaking of Venezuela, do you think the ongoing crisis will have a large impact on the global oil market?

    Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima: It will, of course. Clearly, we want a dialogue, it is a friendly country that we do believe is very important. We don’t want violence, or any problems, because it will damage the development of the country for many years. But honestly speaking, it will have a major impact in the future for a long time.

    Sputnik: Still, OPEC says there’s no discussion needed between its members and non-members.

    Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima: No, we have a scheduled April meeting and that’s what we are doing. Maybe we will discuss it.

    Sputnik: So you will discuss the Venezuelan crisis after all?

    Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima: I have not received the agenda yet, so I don’t know for sure. OPEC will discuss matters of oil and gas, nothing political.

    Sputnik: Recently, it was revealed that OPEC-non-OPEC reached only 83 percent compliance rate with targeted production cuts of 1.2 million barrels per day in January. I know that Equatorial Guinea had perfect compliance, you even outdid it, but there are some countries, your neighbor Nigeria, that were not so good. How do you assess the overall compliance with cuts so far?

    Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima: First of all, we are taking care of the situation, our compliance is mainly the result of some fields that we have being in decline. We are doing the investment to keep up the production again, so that’s the main reason we are extremely over compliant. Now about the neighbors, clearly the elections [in Nigeria] are finished.

    They are the ones who have to make a decision [to cut]. We all make sacrifices and I think it’s right for everyone to make the same sacrifice. You can’t just get one that does something and the other ones to keep producing or having exceptions. So, that [low compliance rate of Nigeria] is something that will definitely be discussed in April [between OPEC and non-OPEC].

    Sputnik: On Wednesday, His Excellency Saudi Energy Minister] Khalid al-Falih said there was likelihood of an extension of the oil production cut deal beyond June. But depending on fundamentals, you could also all agree to ease production limits. Do you agree with him?

    Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima: I do agree, because there is a limit to how much we can be doing this. There is a major factor such as the US production. So if we have to leave the market to be flowing, the ones who’s going to suffer more is not just us, but also the US industry, because they create a lot of jobs. I don’t think that it’s sustainable. I do agree with him [al-Falih], that we’ll have to discuss seriously maybe ending this agreement.

    Sputnik: At the upcoming meeting, will new member countries be accepted to the deal or to the organization?

    Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima: No, at this moment OPEC organization is being fretted everywhere, so I don’t think anyone is keen to enter. In November there could be another look at it and [there] may be some interest, but in April- I don’t think so.

    Sputnik: Can you share the details of an upcoming auction in April of Equatorial Guinea’s blocks?

    Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima: There will be 22 exploration blocks and there will be 4 blocks that have discoveries. One is going to be Block R, Block B, Block Z and Block EG-23. We are very encouraged by different interest that we have.

    I have a very good scoop that there is a major Russian company that is 90 percent confirmed that before the end of this year will be in Equatorial Guinea. It’s almost done. We are receiving a lot of interest, a lot of encouragement, that’s what they are saying. Personally they are interested in the blocks that have discoveries.

    So it’s not going to be just exploration blocks, they will be able to send both an exploration plan and a discovery plan.

    Sputnik: You were previously scheduled to visit Moscow with Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo to hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Is this visit going to take place?

    Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima: I do have a plan to visit Moscow and take a state invitation to [President Putin] for the GECF [Gas Exporting Countries Forum] the Heads of State Summit in November.

    Then we will have a state visit in October with the President to Moscow. And in November there is the summit in Equatorial Guinea.

    Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    Topic:
    Political Crisis in Venezuela (573)

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    oil, impact, market, OPEC, Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, United States, Equatorial Guinea, Venezuela
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