GCC oil ministers are scheduled to meet in Riyadh on 5 March, in another attempt by regional oil producers to find ways of shoring up the oil price. The announcement, made by Kuwaiti Oil Minister Ali Ahmad al-Baghli on 14 February, coincided with further falls on the oil futures market, where prices for the Brent benchmark neared a five-year low at just under $13.50 a barrel.

Al-Baghli said a definite agenda for the meeting had still to be worked out, although he added that it would fall within the framework of conciliation of OPEC and non-OPEC producers. The move was widely interpreted as signalling a new urgency about falling prices among regional producers in the run- up to the crucial OPEC meeting in Geneva on 25 March.

Qatari Energy & Industry Minister Abdullah Bin Hamad al-Attiya announced on 12 February that he planned to visit other OPEC producers in mid-March in his capacity as president of OPEC. On the same day, Omani Oil Minister Said Bin al-Shanfari assured the OPEC president by telephone that independent oil producers had agreed to co-operate with OPEC members over output cuts with the 12-member strong organisation.

Leading figures in the industry still remain to be convinced that any cut in OPEC production will herald higher prices. David Simon, chief executive of The British Petroleum Company (BP), said, after announcing company profits of $900 million in 1993, that there would be no basis for real increases in the oil price until a recovery in the global economy took place.