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No call to sit with OPEC in June, Russia says

Russian oil production in February set an all-time record.

By Daniel J. Graeber
No call to sit with OPEC in June, Russia says
No call from OPEC to Russia to attend a regular summit in June, Russia's oil minister says. Russia had supported a proposal with some OPEC members to hold oil production steady. Photo by akiyoko/Shutterstock.

MOSCOW, May 12 (UPI) -- There's been no invitation extended to the Russian government to attend next month's summit of members of OPEC, Russia's energy minister said.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said cooperation with the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is ongoing. All parties hold meetings on a regular basis, but no invitation was extended for the June summit.

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"No such invitation you talk about has been present so far," he said.

Russia had worked earlier this year with OPEC members to develop a policy to freeze crude oil production at January levels in an effort to stabilize an energy market characterized by heavy supplies.

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Novak met in February with his counterparts from Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela to consider production arrangements. He said in April he was "optimistic" that major producers would agree to hold output steady, though the meetings collapsed after Saudi Arabia expressed reluctance to move forward without Iran's participation. Iran's oil minister in March said his country would consider a cap on production levels once his country regained a stronger position in the post-sanctions era.

Novak said he was still eager to work with Saudi Arabia, the de facto head of OPEC, on production arrangements.

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"Our interaction is within the framework of energy cooperation or bilateral trade and economic cooperation," he said. "Our contacts will continue despite failure to reach an agreement in Doha on April 17 and we will develop our cooperation in all areas."

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Russia's economy is expected to linger in recession as pressure from lower crude oil prices mount. Russian President Vladimir Putin said Novak was "personally" invested in working with leading players in the global energy sector to stabilize the market.

Russian oil production last year increased 1.4 percent from 2014 levels, while export volumes rose by 9 percent year-on-year. In February, its production of 10.4 million barrels per day was the highest-ever level for Russia.

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