OSLO — Norwegian oil minister Arne Oeien said Thursday that he had accepted an invitation to meet with OPEC President Arturo Hernandez Grisanti of Venezuela and Oil Minister Ahmad Zaki Yamani of Saudi Arabia.
But Oeien said Norway currently would not support efforts to boost world oil prices to levels "contrary to the interests" of the industrialized world.
Oeien said at a news conference that Grisanti and Yamani had asked for the meeting. He said the meeting probably would take place in late June, before a meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries scheduled for next month in Yugoslavia.
In its first policy statement on May 13, Norway's new Labor government indicated a willingness to keep up a dialogue with OPEC.
The 13-nation cartel has been attempting to enlist the cooperation of non-OPEC oil producers such as Norway and Britain in limiting crude output as a means of stabilizing oil prices. Crude prices have dropped by about 50% since late last year, largely because of a massive world oil glut.
"It's not current policy to join OPEC or even go into any formal agreement with OPEC," Oeien said, emphasizing Norway's preconditions for any kind of cooperation with OPEC.
"OPEC countries must first come to an agreement between themselves about efforts which can help to stabilize the oil price before we can contribute in that direction.
"Such efforts must be in the best interest of Norway, and we must be reasonably sure that they have the desired effects. It's not current policy for Norway to support efforts which bring the oil price up to a level which is contrary to the interests of Western industrialized countries," he said.
Oeien, a 57-year-old economist, said his ministry was considering a package of tax changes for oil companies as incentives for continuing exploration and production on the Norwegian continental shelf.