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Russia's stance on OPEC meeting seems fluid

Top oil producers set for weekend meetings in Vienna to review last month's output agreement.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Russia's stance on OPEC meeting seems fluid
Russia's stance on an OPEC agreement to curb oil production seems to waiver based on sources who spoke with media agencies there. Photo by Heather Snow/Shutterstock

MOSCOW, Dec. 9 (UPI) -- Russia's stance on a weekend production meeting between OPEC and non-member states remains fluid, with sources offering competing stances to Russian media.

Russian Oil Minister Alexander Novak this week said there were proposals in circulation about last week's agreement from members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to hold production steady starting in January. The levels that would need to be cut to meet the terms of the agreement are about what OPEC expects for production growth next year, though the arrangement hinges on cooperation from non-member states.

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According to the economists at OPEC, Russia is on pace to average about 11 million barrels of oil production per day this year, about 1.8 percent higher than last year, and if forecasts are accurate, a post-Soviet record.

Russian news agency Tass reports some domestic reluctance to cooperate. One source told the agency "everything is on track" for a weekend meeting in Vienna, though another said the meeting might not take place.

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"Maybe the meeting will be fruitful, maybe we will postpone it," the source said.

Crude oil prices have moved in volatile territory in the trading sessions before the meeting. Markets moved erratically for much of the day Thursday, but ended on a high note.

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Olivier Jakob, managing director of Switzerland-based consultant Petromatrix, said markets were moving in knee-jerk fashion to whatever news headlines were evolving ahead of the weekend meeting in Vienna.

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"The official Russian position should be known over the weekend and that should make Sunday evening, the opening of next week's trading, a volatile session," he said in an emailed statement.

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