KUWAIT – Kuwait may join Nigeria and Venezuela in cutting its oil output if prices continue their recent sharp drop, Kuwaiti Oil Minister Sheikh Ali al-Jarrah al-Sabah told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday.
His comments were significant because Kuwait is the first of OPEC's core Gulf producers to take this position. U.S. oil prices rallied almost 50 cents to above $59 a barrel.
The world's top exporter Saudi Arabia and its Gulf neighbours Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates are best placed to raise output when more oil is needed and cut back when the market is oversupplied.
"Kuwait may voluntarily lower (oil output) in order to maintain the market's stability," Sheikh Ali said.
OPEC ministers were in agreement that for now any production cuts would be voluntary rather than across the board, he said.
Some analysts have questioned OPEC's ability to speak with one voice since Nigeria and Venezuela announced token output cuts to stem a 25 percent drop in the oil price since mid-July.
"We are currently in negotiations with fellow OPEC members. Matters have been left that these voluntary reductions undertaken by some OPEC countries will calm the markets, at least for the current period," Sheikh Ali said.
OPEC, which pumps over a third of the world's oil, has kept its ceiling at 28 million barrels daily for over a year.
"The current situation with prices and the big retreat that has taken place is uncomfortable for OPEC nations," the minister added.
Pressed on price, he said $60 a barrel for U.S. crude was comfortable but $50 was worrying. U.S. oil fell as low as $58.20 earlier on Wednesday, its lowest since mid-Feb.
An official at OPEC's Vienna headquarters said on Wednesday OPEC members were not yet panicking over price and none were expected to join Venezuela and Nigeria in making cuts just yet.