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Opec, non-Opec countries study Venezuela's oil summit proposal: Qatar

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Oil resumed its decline as Iran said Opec production may rise to a record after sanctions on the country are lifted and as US drilling activity increased.

[DOHA] Opec and non-Opec countries are studying a Venezuelan proposal for a heads-of-state summit to address low oil prices, the energy minister of Qatar said on Thursday.

"The different countries are studying this proposal and if there was a response from Opec and outside Opec then OK,"Qatar's Mohammed al-Sada said. "But we are in the study phase."

Cash-strapped Venezuela has for months been pushing for an emergency meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries with Russia to stem a tumble in prices.

Oil is trading below US$48 a barrel, less than half its level of June 2014.

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Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Saturday he had suggested holding an Opec summit to the emir of Qatar, an idea he said the leader of the Arab Gulf state "liked".

Maduro also suggested non-Opec countries, which include Russia, take part.

Oil deepened its decline after Opec's 2014 policy change to defend market share and discourage competing supply sources, rather than cut its own output in the face of lower prices. Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies led the shift in strategy.

Non-Gulf members want Opec to take action. Algeria has written to Opec expressing concern about the market and Iran has supported the idea of an emergency meeting.

But the Gulf Opec members have opposed holding an early meeting and show no sign of changing strategy, especially given the refusal of Russia and other big non-Opec countries to cut their own output.

The Venezuelan proposal received a lukewarm response on Thursday from one Opec source, who said any such summit without a concrete outcome would not help.

"If we are meeting for the sake of meeting, it would backfire," the source said.

Opec last held a heads-of-state summit in Saudi Arabia in 2007, when oil prices were on their way to a record high of US$147 a barrel reached a year later.