Russia could join OPEC, Iran says

TEHRAN, March 12 (UPI) -- The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries could welcome Russia to its membership if Moscow is willing to join the cartel, Iranian oil officials said.

"OPEC is prepared to admit Russia as a new member," Iranian Oil Minister Gholamhossein Nozari said.


Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko had said his country was looking to coordinate its investment strategies with OPEC members.

Nozari made similar comments ahead of an OPEC regular meeting to be held Sunday in Vienna, saying that non-OPEC members should cooperate with the oil cartel as the energy market stagnates amid the global economic crisis, the Iranian Press TV reports.

OPEC announced a series of production cuts in 2008 in an effort to control a precipitous decline in crude oil prices, down more than $100 from July highs of more than $147 per barrel.

Several analysts expect OPEC to announce further production cuts Sunday at its regular meeting in Vienna, though Nozari said last week that he did not predict additional cuts as prices have held steady at around $40 per barrel for months.

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