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Russia not surprised by OPEC

Russia's oil minister had backed a proposal to freeze production at January levels.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Russia not surprised by OPEC
Russia, which supported a production freeze proposal, said it's not surprised with a status quo policy from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. File photo by Monika Graff/UPI | License Photo

MOSCOW, June 3 (UPI) -- A move to keep policies more or less in place during Thursday's highly anticipated meeting between OPEC leaders was no surprise, Russia's oil minister said.

Ministers from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries met in Vienna this week for their first gathering since the collapse of a proposal to freeze production at January levels meant to influence the balance between supply and demand. Since December, a concluding statement from the OPEC meeting said crude oil prices have moved up by more than 80 percent without any sort of production intervention.

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"This is testament to the fact that the market is moving through the balancing process," the group said.

While stating a commitment to ensuring a stable and balanced market, the group said only that it would continue to monitor developments and meet again later this year to consider any extraordinary measures.

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Russian Oil Minister Alexander Novak, who had supported the January freeze, said Friday he suspects OPEC will stand pat on long-term policies that favor market dynamics.

"We didn't expect any surprises," he said.

Novak met in early 2016 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 at January levels.

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In February, oil production of 10.4 million barrels per day was the highest-ever level for Russia.

Last month, Vygon Consulting, a research group with headquarters in Moscow, said that if OPEC members agreed to curb production, markets could return to balance. That balance hinged on Iran, from which the report said most of the new production from OPEC originates.

"The balance may only be reached in case the OPEC member-states strike a compromise or if the geopolitical situation in the Middle East seriously worsens," the report said. "Otherwise, the excess of oil will persist throughout 2017."

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