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Iran, Venezuela urge oil price support ahead of OPEC meeting

A man pumps gasoline at a service station in Caracas August 7, 2014. REUTERS/Jorge Silva/Files

DUBAI (Reuters) - OPEC hawks Iran and Venezuela on Saturday called on fellow crude producers to shore up prices that have plunged more than 30 percent to four-years low ahead of an OPEC meeting later this month.

Oil prices have fallen to below $79 on abundant and weak demand from $115 a barrel in June. Scepticism that OPEC will cut supply when it meets on Nov. 27 have also weighed on the prices.

So far, only Kuwait and Iran have said a reduction is unlikely, while a Libyan OPEC official, Venezuela and Ecuador have called for OPEC to cut output.

Privately some delegates are talking of the need for some action, although they warn an agreement will not be easy to reach.

In comments reported by Iran oil ministry's news agency Shana, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Rafael Ramirez, speaking in Iran, said Tehran and Caracas hold a common stance on the oil market.

"We believe that the prices are at a very low level and instability in the market is in no one's interest," Ramirez told Shana. "A hundred dollars per barrel is the desirable price for Venezuela."

Iran Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh made similar remarks.

"It is difficult to go back to the old (oil) prices but we should try to fix the prices as much as the current market situation allows," Zanganeh said.

Ramirez, Venezuela's main representative at OPEC and until September was the country's oil minister, has embarked on an oil diplomacy tour ahead of the OPEC meeting.

He visited Algeria and Qatar and was due to visit Russia after Iran.

Iran's Zanganeh also visited Qatar and Kuwait this week in a bid to win support for stabilising oil markets.

Ramirez later told Venezuela's Telesur TV channel that he would continue to coordinate actions to defend the oil price which were falling "for no apparent reason".

Iran and Venezuela need higher oil prices to balance their budgets than fellow OPEC members Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab producers.

The OPEC meeting may revive memories of a 2011 meeting which Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi described as one of the worst after Gulf countries were blocked from reaching a deal by a majority including Iran, Venezuela, Algeria and Ecuador.

Naimi on Wednesday reaffirmed the kingdom's longstanding policy of seeking stable global markets.


(Reporting by Rania El Gamal, Mehrdad Balali, Alexandra Ulmer; editing by Dale Hudson and Jason Neely)