The tenth meeting of the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC) will be held on Sunday with Saudi Arabia as its president, and the energy ministers of Russia, Algeria, Oman, Kuwait and Venezuela as members and some other OPEC and non-OPEC ministers. I have come to Algeria because I think there will be outstanding news on the issues related to the meeting. Yesterday, word had gotten out that 20 oil ministers were scheduled to attend the meeting. However, some believe such a turnout would be unlikely.
Tomorrow, on the sidelines of the JMMC meeting, a special program will also be held; OPEC is expected to honor the charismatic and influential Algerian President, Abdelaziz Bouteflika. By the mid 90s, when Hugo Chavez addressed the opening of the 3rd OPEC summit in Riyadh, he suddenly turned to President Bouteflika, and respectfully said, "My brother, Bouteflika! We do not forget the memories of your struggle with colonialism," and then turned to the other heads of oil producing countries, including Amir Abdullah (the then-Saudi King), saying, "What has happened to us that we no longer respond properly to the demands (read: bullying) of colonialists." (The sentences are paraphrased quotes). At that time, sanctions against Iran were in the making.
Tomorrow, OPEC is scheduled to respect a man who is recognized as a symbol of the fight against foreign colonialist; a man who at the same time was able to bring unity to his country. At a time when US President Donald Trump openly threatens some OPEC members with his whimsical tweets and pressures others by bullying sanctions, it may be helpful for OPEC countries to pay special heed to the message honoring Mr. Bouteflika will have.
What did the head of the Iranian delegation say upon his arrival in Algeria? Hossein Kazempour Ardebily, Iran's OPEC Governor, arrived in Aurassi Hotel, Algiers, at around 4:00 PM local time. When asked: "Has the Iranian delegation entered this meeting with a particular strategy?" by Platts correspondent, Mr. Ardebily replied: "Our stance is the same as what Mr. Minister (Iranian Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zanganeh) announced in his recent interview."
Bijan Zanganeh cancelled his participation in the JMMC meeting last week, and sent Mr. Ardebily to the event. The meeting, under OPEC Declaration 174 and its subsequent agreement with non-OPEC producers, is tasked with monitoring the reduction of the compliance of OPEC and non-OPEC countries to their output cut agreement from 152 percent to 100 percent and reporting to the OPEC ministerial meetings. Mr. Zanganeh was scheduled to travel to Algiers at the head of a six-member delegation. Even arrangements for his visa were made, but after the conditions changed, he cancelled his trip and told an interview that this meeting was not that important! "It is our belief that the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC) is not entitled to decision making. This committee has no legal authority. "
Mr. Zanganeh's interview can be approached from various angles. I have a feeling that a new polarization is being formed within OPEC with the participation of Russia outside of OPEC, the consequences of which could threaten Iran's interests in the oil market. This could be one reason a lot of journalists have descended to Algiers.
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