Venezuela says no OPEC consensus on output

OPEC is divided on how to respond to plunging crude oil prices with no plan for an emergency meeting in the next few weeks, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Tuesday.

At a meeting of the cartel in November, Venezuela unsuccessfully lobbied fellow members to tighten the taps to stem the fall in oil prices.

Maduro is on a tour of OPEC countries that has included Saudi Arabia and Iran, where he reportedly pushed for greater cooperation to shore up the price of oil.

But speaking in Algeria Tuesday before meeting Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal, Maduro said: "There will be no OPEC meeting in the coming weeks due to the lack of consensus."

The next OPEC meeting is scheduled to be held in June.

Maduro was also due to hold talks with Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, whose country is also a member of OPEC.

The Venezuelan leader said the discussions would focus on "the importance of ensuring the stability of oil prices".

He said oil prices should not be used as an "economic and geopolitical weapon".

Oil prices have fallen to six-year lows, plunging by more than 50 percent in the past six months amid concerns of oversupply and weak global growth, with benchmark prices dropping to below $50 a barrel.

Despite the fall, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries has refrained from cutting production as it seeks to drive new suppliers, especially North American shale oil producers, out of the market.

Analysts say Gulf producers like Saudi Arabia have sufficient reserves to weather the price drop but other OPEC members like Iran and Venezuela are suffering.

Maduro was quoted in a statement on the Iranian government's website as calling for "cooperation of oil exporting countries to bring back stability".

Algeria has also asked OPEC to reduce production although it says it can handle the price drop thanks to its large foreign exchange reserves built up while oil prices were high.

Ali Benflis, Bouteflika's main rival in presidential elections last year, accused the government of downplaying the danger to Algeria of the price slump.

He said Bouteflika was trying "to anaesthetize our citizens by claiming that the energy crisis will have no severe impact on our country."