The Republic of Congo, which holds OPEC's rotating presidency for 2022, is pushing to host a meeting of the producer bloc in June, to highlight Africa's role in the oil market as it struggles to raise investment, sources told S&P Global Platts.
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Congo oil minister Bruno Jean Richars Itoua said on an International Energy Forum webinar Feb. 16 that his country intends to hold a global oil conference and exhibition that would show how the continent's energy sector has evolved and hopefully attract financing to develop its substantial resources.
Sources said the minister is also seeking to hold either an OPEC meeting or a session of the nine-country OPEC+ Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee on the sidelines of the conference, which is scheduled for June 15-17 in Congo's capital, Brazzaville.
It would come at a critical time in the oil market, with seasonal demand expected to be ramping up with the onset of the summer driving season in the Northern Hemisphere, and the OPEC+ alliance aiming to return its crude production to pre-pandemic levels by late 2022, though several members, especially in Africa, are struggling to raise output and have few projects set to come online in the coming years.
Already, crude prices are near eight-year highs, with Platts assessing Dated Brent at $97.66/b on Feb. 15, up 24% year-to-date.
OPEC's African growth
The mooted meeting, which sources said had yet to be formally presented to the group, could be one of the last public duties for OPEC Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo, a Nigerian whose term ends in July, when Kuwait's Haitham al-Ghais will take over.
Under Barkindo's six years in the post, the organization's sub-Saharan African contingent has grown significantly, with Gabon renewing its membership in 2016 after 20 years away, Equatorial Guinea joining in 2017 and Congo coming on board in 2018, adding to existing members Nigeria and Angola.
Congo, in West Africa, pumped 260,000 b/d in January, according to the latest Platts survey of OPEC+ output, making it among the group's smallest members, though it has produced as high as 350,000 b/d since joining.
OPEC and its Russian-led allies, known as OPEC+, have held their proceedings virtually since the pandemic shut down travel in spring 2020, though several delegates have said they are eager for in-person gatherings to resume.
Prior to the pandemic, meetings were typically convened at the OPEC secretariat in Vienna, though various countries, including Saudi Arabia, Russia, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman and Azerbaijan, have hosted sessions of the JMMC, a nine-country committee tasked with monitoring market conditions and assessing member quota compliance.
The next OPEC+ meeting is scheduled for March 2 online to decide on April output levels.