No oil production cuts on table, Russia says

Russian deputy energy minister sparked frenzy with comment that a cut was possible.
By Daniel J. Graeber  |  Sept. 22, 2016 at 8:21 AM
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MOSCOW, Sept. 22 (UPI) -- Russia's energy minister said Thursday there are no proposals on the table to cut crude oil production, though a move to hold levels steady is under review.

Ministers at an international energy conference next week in Algeria may review a revised consideration to hold production levels steady in an effort to support higher crude oil prices. Oil prices are down from $100 per barrel in 2014 in part because supplies have outweighed demand in a global economy still struggling to put the last recession in the rear-view mirror.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said ministers could consider an option to keep production rates steady for the next three to six months, but there are no offers on the table to actually cut production.

"This option, at least according to the information I have on our discussion with other ministers and other countries, is not being considered," he was quoted by Russian news agency Tass as saying.

The latest narrative on rumors of a production agreement moved ahead of the issue after Novak's deputy, Kirill Molodtsov, said a 5 percent cut in production was "technically" possible based on discussions with oil companies over the last year.

"Agreed means signed, which was not the case," he added.

Novak on Sept. 5 met on the sidelines of a summit for the members of the Group of 20 economies in China to discuss with Saudi Oil Minister Khalid al-Falih ways to reverse a slide in crude oil prices.

In a joint statement, both sides said the onus was on them, as two countries that combine to meet about 20 percent of the global demand for crude oil, to coordinate on ways to address widespread volatility in oil prices.

Novak earlier had cast doubt about a production curtailment after telling Russia news agency Sputnik that oil priced in the $50 per barrel range was "normal."

Similar efforts at a so-called freeze collapsed earlier this year along multilateral lines. While struggling members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries support any action that would drive prices higher, others like Iran are wary of cutting output as producers struggle to protect their market share.

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