Moscow Cautious on Consensus With OPEC

Moscow Cautious on Consensus With OPECMoscow Cautious on Consensus With OPEC

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich on Friday played down expectations that Russia could coordinate with OPEC to arrest the fall in oil prices by reducing production, saying the state would not intervene to balance the market.

"We take the position that our oil sector is, to a significant extent, private, and is commercially minded, it is not under the direct control of the state. Our market is governed by the decisions of individual companies and that is how it will continue," Dvorkovich was quoted as saying by Reuters.

"If prices are at a low level for an extended period of time, a correction in investment will become inevitable and that will lead to a certain reduction in output, but that will not be a deliberate act by the state."

Energy Minister Alexander Novak also took a cautious approach on the outcome of any negotiations between the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and oil exporters outside the grouping.

"We're ready to discuss the issue of cutting oil output volumes, but this isn't a decision," Novak said in an interview with Bloomberg. "We're ready to consider the possibility. This should be a consensus. If there's a consensus, it makes sense; if not, it's not."

Novak was reflecting the challenges of reaching a deal between key OPEC countries on one hand, and on the other hand Russia and Iran, which have strong reasons for keeping oil exports high, at least for now.

Russia said it expected to kick off discussions about oil output at talks between OPEC and non-OPEC countries.

Two OPEC delegates said a date had not been set.

"There is no date. Maybe in February, maybe the beginning of March," said one. The other delegate said such a meeting would be at an expert, rather than ministerial, level.