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Venezuela says it can weather oil price drop

Venezuela’s President, Nicolas Maduro

Caracas,(EFE).- Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Thursday his government can withstand a continued drop in oil prices and recalled that the South American country has requested an urgent OPEC meeting to address the issue.

“A revolutionary government with economic power like the one I preside over, we have plans, I have plans, to get through any situation, no matter how far down they want to send oil prices. We have plans to replace and guarantee the hard currency the country needs for the economy to function,” the leftist head of state said.

Maduro made his remarks during a Cabinet meeting at the Miraflores presidential palace, saying his country will seek to buoy oil prices and that they “will rebound” soon.

“Venezuela has requested an urgent meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to review this matter,” Maduro said, attributing the drop in oil prices to a U.S. strategy to hurt Russia’s economy.

“What is the reason for the United States and some U.S. allies wanting to drive down the price of oil? To harm Russia,” he said, adding that Venezuela is suffering “collateral” damage.

He also brushed off warnings by “right-wing voices” that the major oil exporter is on the verge of defaulting on its foreign debt, saying Venezuela has the funds to pay what it owes.

Last Friday, the Oil and Mining Ministry said the average price of Venezuelan crude for the week ending Oct. 10 was $82.72. The price of Venezuelan oil had not been that low since falling to $82.23 on Dec. 17, 2010.

The average price of Venezuela’s crude basket thus far in 2014 is $94.99, lower than the average price of $98.08 for all of 2013 and $103.42 for 2012.

In a statement on its Web site, the ministry attributed the slide in crude prices to expectations of a global economic slowdown and ample crude supplies in the main consumer centers.

The OPEC weekly basket price fell nearly $4 last week to $88.56, marking its sixth straight weekly drop.

Venezuela is a founding member of OPEC