Nigeria backs efforts to 'stabilise' oil market
The Nigerian and Saudi leaders supported efforts to stabilise the oil market but Africa's top producer did not commit to a production freeze.
After talks in the Saudi capital Riyadh, Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari and Saudi King Salman "committed themselves to doing all that is possible to stabilise the market and rebound the oil price," Buhari's office said in a statement. Buhari was in Riyadh a week after Saudi Arabia, Russia, Venezuela and Qatar agreed at talks in Doha to freeze production at January levels in a bid to stem the dramatic fall in oil prices.
The agreement is conditional on other major producers joining in, as oil heavyweights seek to ensure others do not take advantage of output limits to win market share.
The statement after Tuesday's talks made no mention of Nigeria joining the freeze but analysts say the OPEC member is likely to eventually support the move.
The official Saudi Press Agency also reported that talks between Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, the Saudi deputy oil minister, and his Nigerian counterpart, junior oil minister Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, focused on "the best way for (market) stability" and "the cooperation of producing countries inside and outside OPEC" to achieve this.
Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries had been refusing to limit or reduce production, leading to a supply glut that has seen prices fall by 70 percent since mid-2014.
Poorer OPEC members, including Nigeria, have been hard hit by the price drop but even the wealthy Gulf states have been forced to adopt austerity measures to cope with falling oil revenues.
"I wouldn't be surprised to see them voice their support to the freeze agreed in Doha," Abhishek Deshpande, lead oil market analyst at Natixis in London, said of Nigeria.
But he said that unless Iraq and Iran also commit to limit production such talks "carry very little weight".
The two countries are OPEC's second- and third-largest producers.
Iran, returning to world markets as sanctions are lifted under its nuclear deal, has insisted on boosting production to pre-sanctions levels.