By Camillus Eboh
Nigeria is hopeful some members of OPEC will meet other oil producers in Russia before the end of March for talks about an oil output freeze, Minister of State for Petroleum Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu says.
Africa's biggest oil producer has been pushing for action by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries because the drop in oil revenue, on which it relies for around 95 percent of foreign earnings, has undercut its public finances.
Kachikwu first mooted the possibility of talks in Russia last week.
"We are making progress - we are still hoping to have a meeting in Russia, hopefully towards the end of the month. We are still trying to gather consensus," Kachikwu told reporters in the capital, Abuja.
Oil prices have lost two thirds of their value since mid-2014 as a result of a supply glut caused by booming output from the United States and OPEC. Prices fell below US$30 per barrel in January, their lowest in more than a decade.
Benchmark Brent futures were around US$39 per barrel by 2034 GMT on Tuesday (0734 Wednesday AEDT).
In February, OPEC leader Saudi Arabia and non-OPEC Russia, the world's two largest oil exporters, agreed to freeze output at January levels to prop up prices if other nations agreed to join the first global oil pact in 15 years.
However, OPEC's third-largest producer, Iran, plans to steeply raise production after international sanctions on the Islamic Republic were lifted in January.
"Iraq and Iran are still saying that they cannot commit to specific volumes because of the history of the time they were out," said Kachikwu.
"If we do have the meeting in Russia, it's going to be very dramatic in terms of the price of oil," he added.