Venezuela's oil minister will tour OPEC and non-OPEC countries in a bid to drum up support for joint action to stem the tumble in crude prices, President Nicolas Maduro announced on Tuesday night.
"I've given the order to minister Eulogio del Pino for him to immediately start a tour of OPEC and non-OPEC countries," the leftist leader said in a televised broadcast.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is considering a request from cash-strapped Venezuela to hold an emergency meeting to discuss steps to prop up prices, and Venezuela has called for a meeting of OPEC and non-OPEC nations in February.
"We must stop this madness," a solemn-faced Maduro said about oil prices, urging "clear, consequential and coordinated" action.
It was not immediately clear what countries del Pino, who is also the president of state oil company PDVSA, would visit.
OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia and top non-OPEC producer Russia are showing signs of flexibility about agreeing to tackle an oil glut that has pushed prices to 12-year lows, the oil minister of Iraq said on Tuesday.
OPEC Secretary-General Abdullah al-Badri said other producers should work with the group to tackle swollen global stockpiles so prices can recover, essentially reiterating OPEC's position that it would consider cutting output only if others pitched in.
Moscow, seen as key to any agreement, has so far refused to cooperate. But Leonid Fedun, vice-president of Lukoil, Russia's second-largest oil producer, was quoted as saying on Monday Moscow needed to start working with OPEC.
Russian state oil pipeline monopoly Transneft said on Wednesday Russia and the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) would discuss possible output cuts, TASS news agency reported.
RIA news agency also cited Transneft Chief Executive Nikolai Tokarev as saying a meeting at the Russian Energy Ministry had discussed possible talks with Saudi Arabia on oil.
Senior Russian officials told Reuters earlier on Wednesday Russia's government is not discussing cooperation with OPEC, after a co-owner of Lukoil said Moscow and the exporter group should join forces to battle low oil prices.