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Russia Backs Gradual Exit from Oil Cuts with OPEC

Russia Backs Gradual Exit from Oil Cuts with OPEC

Saturday, 23 December, 2017 - 09:45
A man fixes a sign with OPEC's logo next to its headquarters entrance before a meeting of OPEC oil ministers in Vienna, Austria, November 29, 2017. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader

OPEC and Russia will exit from oil production cuts very smoothly, possibly extending the curbs in some form to avoid creating any new surplus in the market, the Russian energy minister Alexander Novak stated.

In an interview with Reuters, Novak said Friday that he saw no direct connection between the oil cuts and Saudi Arabia’s plan to list Saudi Aramco, the world’s top oil producer.

“Everyone in the market is interested in achieving balance,” Novak said in response to a question on whether Saudi Arabia could abruptly exit the cuts as soon as it lists Aramco sometime in 2018. The share sale promises to be the world’s biggest.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other large oil producers led by Russia agreed last month to extend until the end of next year their deal to cut a combined 1.8 million barrels per day of output.

The move is aimed at clearing a global stocks overhang and propping up oil prices.

Russia and Saudi Arabia have significantly improved bilateral ties this year, resulting in a visit to Moscow by Saudi King Salman accompanied by a large political and business delegation.

Oil is a key source of budget revenue for both countries and Novak said he expected prices to fluctuate at $50-$60 per barrel next year.

On Thursday, King Salman and Russian President Vladimir Putin held a telephone conversation during which they agreed to continue close cooperation to ensure stability on global hydrocarbon markets.


OPEC and Russia together produce more than 40 percent of the world’s oil. Moscow’s cooperation on output cuts with OPEC, arranged with Putin’s help, has been crucial in roughly halving an excess of global oil stocks since January.

With oil prices rising above $60, Russia has expressed concern that an extension for the whole of 2018 could prompt a spike in crude production in the United States, which is not participating in the deal, according to Reuters.

Russia has been pushing for a timely exit from the cuts to make sure the market doesn’t overheat.

Novak said it would take time for the deal to be brought to an end.

“Detailed parameters will be discussed by the time we approach balance. There could be different timeframes, depending on forecasts of supply and increasing demand in global markets,” he said.

“We have a common understanding on this issue but I don’t want to discuss hypothetical scenarios now,” Novak said.

“There is a consensus among the (oil) ministers that we should avoid oversupply on the market when exiting the deal.”

Novak said there was an option to extend the deal beyond 2018, while he sees markets balancing in the third or fourth quarters of next year.

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