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Venezuela says 'informal' OPEC chat planned before December meeting

The logo of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is pictured at its headquarters in Vienna, Austria, August 21, 2015.

Reuters/Heinz-Peter Bader -

Oil ministers of OPEC nations will hold "candid, informal" talks on Dec. 3, a day before the group's formally scheduled meeting in Vienna, Venezuela's oil minister said on Wednesday, adding the idea was suggested by Saudi Arabia.

"It's an informal meeting where we're going to speak in a very frank way about the market situation, and we're going to speak frankly about production levels in each country," Venezuelan Oil Minister Eulogio del Pino told Reuters in a phone interview.

Price-hawk Venezuela has been pushing for OPEC action to boost prices. OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia, however, has rebuffed those calls and is instead focused on defending market share.

The informal meeting will be held at the suggestion of Saudi Arabia's oil minister Ali al-Naimi, del Pino said.

"After our calls for the need for OPEC to do something, he himself proposed that we could meet a day before the OPEC meeting to talk, in a candid, informal way, about the situation, what we're going to do with volumes, what we're going to do with prices," added del Pino, who met with Naimi earlier on Wednesday.

After the get-together in Saudi Arabia, Naimi said "it was an ordinary meeting; we talked about markets."

One source‎ familiar with the matter confirmed the Dec. 3 meeting, adding it was "just talks."

Informal meetings of OPEC nation officials are not uncommon in the run-up to formal gatherings.

Naimi was the key architect of OPEC's decision in November 2014 not to cut crude production despite a growing global glut, exacerbated by a boom in U.S. shale oil.

Venezuela, meanwhile, has been pushing a proposal that includes progressive production cuts to control prices, with a "first floor" of $70 per barrel and a later target of $100 per barrel.

The Dec. 3 meeting will take place in Vienna, said del Pino, who is also the president of Venezuela's state-run oil company PDVSA [PDVSA.UL].

Ecuador and Qatar's ministers had already confirmed their attendance.

"And I’m going to talk with the rest of the ministers to invite them to the meeting," del Pino added.

Read more at Reuters