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Chad, Congo, and Malaysia are all lining up to join OPEC, Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, the energy minister of the cartel’s newest member Equatorial Guinea, told Russian outlet Sputnik on the sidelines of the CERAWeek conference in Houston on Wednesday.
In Africa, countries like Chad and Congo are interested in joining OPEC, even though they are not oil exporters at present, Obiang said, noting that new members could make the international community “see OPEC with a new face.”
“The Asian countries — some of them are Indonesia, who initially left OPEC to be observers and now they want to return back and then you have other ones like Malaysia. The countries have already sent a letter, we are evaluating,” Sputnik quoted Equatorial Guinea’s minister as saying.
Indonesia suspected its OPEC membership in December 2016, less than a year after it had rejoined the organization, because it could not agree on the production cuts the cartel and its non-OPEC partners were discussing.
In December last year, Indonesia’s deputy energy minister Arcandra Tahar said that his country would keep its OPEC membership frozen.
Referring to Venezuela’s proposal to extend the market monitoring function of the OPEC/non-OPEC agreement for another five years, Obiang told Sputnik that such a proposal would allow the oil producing countries to better plan ahead and reduce volatility and risk.
“It’s an idea, a study, that has been well-taken by OPEC, it’s not something that we all have agreed on, but in general it has a very acceptable reaction,” Sputnik quoted Obiang as saying.
Equatorial Guinea became a member of OPEC in May 2017, and apart from being the newest member, it’s also the smallest producing nation that is part of the cartel. In January 2018, Equatorial Guinea pumped 134,000 bpd of crude oil, the smallest amount among OPEC’s 14 members, according to OPEC’s secondary sources. Equatorial Guinea is also looking to lift its oil production in the medium term to stem the decline in some oil fields, Obiang said in an interview in October last year.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.