Russia confirms January oil production freeze proposal

Russian president summons oil directors to his office in Moscow to discuss market situation.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   March 2, 2016 at 9:07 AM
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MOSCOW, March 2 (UPI) -- The Kremlin confirmed the directors at Russia's major oil companies agreed to a proposal to hold production levels static in an effort to stimulate the market.

Russian President Vladimir Putin met in Moscow with the heads of Russia's major oil producers. A market characterized by oversupplies and weak global economic growth means crude oil prices are hovering near 10-year lows.

The Russian benchmark Urals crude oil price declined from an average $57.30 per barrel in February 2015 to $28.75 per barrel in January 2016.

"This is a very significant drop [and] a significant blow to companies' revenues," the president said.

Russia's economy is expected to linger in recession as pressure from lower crude oil prices mount. Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak, the president said, is "personally" invested in working with leading players in the global energy sector to stabilize the market.

Novak met last month with his counterparts from Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela to consider production arrangements. The parties at a meeting in Doha in early February agreed to freeze output at January levels provided other producers followed suit.

"To be precise, the proposal is to freeze Russia's oil production in 2016 at the level of January," the president said. "We are talking about an average figure for the entire 2016."

Russian oil production last year increased 1.4 percent from 2014 levels, while export volumes rose by 9 percent year-on-year.

The Saudi Cabinet of Ministers met Monday in Riyadh to consider the market situation, noting they would work with fellow oil producers to arrest the market decline. Russia's president said market instability was having global consequences.

"Our task is to retain the stability of Russia's oil industry, to ensure its consistent development and the implementation of long-term projects," he said.

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