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Venezuela Oil Minister Rebuffs OPEC

March 4, 1998

LONDON (AP) _ OPEC has invited its 11 oil ministers to a meeting this month that might address falling world oil prices, but Venezuela’s Erwin Arrieta said Wednesday he won’t go.

Arrieta was quoted by Dow Jones Newswires as saying that OPEC first needed a better analysis of what is happening in oil markets before calling an emergency meeting.

Venezuela is OPEC’s biggest overproducer and has shown no willingness to cut back its output to boost prices.

OPEC’s average oil price has fallen by about one-third since the group agreed in November to boost output, and some ministers are clamoring for an emergency meeting to seek a remedy.

It remains unclear if such a move can gather enough support. If no special meeting takes place, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is next scheduled to meet in June.

OPEC’s secretary-general, Rilwanu Lukman of Nigeria, said Wednesday he had invited all of the ministers to a committee meeting March 16 and that the idea of a subsequent emergency meeting was still under discussion.

Several ministers have said they would attend such a session only if enough groundwork had been done to make a favorable result likely.

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