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Oil Prices Drop After Producers Fail to Agree on Freeze

  • VOA News

Oil prices dropped Monday after major oil producing nations failed to agree on a production freeze to help stabilize the market.

The global benchmark Brent crude was down five percent early Monday, as was U.S. crude oil.

Ministers from 18 OPEC and non-OPEC countries said Sunday after a meeting in Qatar they need "more time" to make a decision about capping production at January levels. They are seeking stability after oil prices plummeted from more than $100 a barrel in 2014 to current prices around $40 a barrel.

The lower prices have cost oil exporters billions of dollars in revenue and damaged some already fragile economies that rely on the sector.

Iran, which opposes the freeze, was absent from the Qatar talks. The end of Western sanctions in exchange for signing a deal on its nuclear program opened up the world to Iranian oil exports and badly needed income for Iran.

"We can't cooperate with them to freeze our own output and in other words, impose sanctions on ourselves," Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zangeneh told Iranian television.

Saudi Arabian officials said they cannot support any oil production freeze if arch-rival Iran also opposes it.

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