Opec and non-Opec oil producers meeting in the Qatari capital of Doha will start talks at around 1200-1230 GMT on a deal to freeze output, hours behind schedule as the initial plan has run into complications, sources said.
Talks were meant to begin early Sunday morning but were postponed due to what looked like a new spike in tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran, sources told Reuters.
"There is an issue. Experts are discussing how to find an acceptable solution. I'm confident they will come up with a solution," one of the sources said.
According to another source, Saudi Arabia said it wanted all Opec members to participate in the talks, despite insisting earlier on excluding Iran because Tehran does not want to freeze production.
Saudi Arabia has taken a tough stance on Iran, the only major Opec producer to have refused to participate in the freeze. Tehran says it needs to regain market share after the lifting of international sanctions against it in January.
Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Bloomberg that the kingdom would restrain its output only if all other major producers, including Iran, agreed to freeze production.
More than a dozen nations inside and outside the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries have officially confirmed they would attend the meeting in Doha but the role of Iran has been the key issue overhanging the talks.
"We have told some Opec and non-Opec members like Russia that they should accept the reality of Iran's return to the oil market," Iran's oil minister Bijan Zanganeh was quoted as saying by his ministry's news agency Shana on Saturday.
"If Iran freezes its oil production ... it cannot benefit from the lifting of sanctions."
ALL OPEC MEMBERS MUST JOIN
Meanwhile, a new draft of a deal to freeze oil output that is to be agreed later on Sunday in Doha has a line saying all Opec members should be part of the agreement, industry sources said.
The change appears to be a major obstacle for clinching a binding deal, given that Opec member Iran had decided not to send representatives to the meeting. -- Reuters