January 25, 2017 / 7:21 AM / 2 years ago

Equatorial Guinea says it expects decision soon on OPEC membership bid

Police officers stand guard on the rooftop of Vienna's OPEC headquarters before the start of meeting of OPEC oil ministers. Police officers stand guard on the rooftop of Vienna's OPEC headquarters before the start of a meeting of OPEC oil ministers September 20, 2005. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Africa’s no. 3 oil producer Equatorial Guinea has held “fruitful” discussions and expects a decision soon on an offer to join the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the country’s energy minister told Reuters on Wednesday.

“We’ve held fruitful discussions. This is going to move faster than we expect,” said Mines and Hydrocarbons Minister Gabriel Mbaga Obiang, responding to emailed questions.

On Monday the energy ministry said the country had applied to join the oil producers’ cartel, seeking to become OPEC’s 14th member and the sixth from Africa, an addition that would help raise the continent’s influence and profile in the corridors of global oil production and pricing. [nL5N1FD2KP]

The offer to join was made when Obiang traveled to Vienna last Friday to meet OPEC officials, including representatives from OPEC heavyweight Saudi Arabia and Nigeria’s Mohammad Barkindo, the current secretary general of the cartel. He also met officials from key non-OPEC producer Russia.

Obiang said the small West African nation, which agreed to production cuts in 2017 as part of a coordinated agreement with OPEC and non-OPEC countries, wanted a stable global oil price and was willing to discuss further cooperation with OPEC to achieve this.

“We are eager to see a stabilisation of the petroleum market, and we were happy to cooperate with the current production cuts to do our part in reducing the global oversupply. We would be open to discussing future endeavours of cooperation,” Obiang said.

Oil prices edged higher on Tuesday ahead of weekly U.S. inventory data on evidence the global market was tightening as lower production by OPEC and other exporters drains stocks. [nL4N1FE162]

Reporting by Wendell Roelf; Editing by TJ Strydom and Kenneth Maxwell

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