Russia Wants Oil Freeze Talks to End by March 1

Russia Wants Oil Freeze Talks to End by March 1Russia Wants Oil Freeze Talks to End by March 1

Consultations on a preliminary deal between leading oil producers to freeze output should be concluded by March 1 after a group led by Russia and Saudi Arabia reached a common position this week in Qatar, Russia's energy minister said.

In a television interview aired on Saturday, Alexander Novak also said that the agreement announced on Feb. 16 was weighty enough, Reuters reported.

"Those countries which have openly supported this approach are producing around 75% out of global oil export volumes. My point is that, in practice, this is enough to agree," Novak told the Vesti on Saturday program.

Russia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Venezuela said this week after talks in Doha that they were ready to freeze production at January levels if other producers do the same.

Iran welcomed the deal. But it stopped short of saying it would itself freeze production at January levels and its deputy oil minister said on Saturday it would increase production soon.

Novak said talks between Venezuela and Iran were still ongoing and said consultations would also be held with non-OPEC countries, including Mexico and Norway.

"I believe that Mexico and Norway would take a constructive stance," he said.

If additional oil was not supplied to the market, the global surplus of oil would fall by at least 1.3 million barrels per day, Novak added.

Novak said Iran had taken a relatively constructive stance on the Doha deal but not yet said it was ready to sign up to the proposals.

Alexey Texler, Russia's first deputy energy minister, said earlier this week that even without Iran there would be an effect from the deal.

According to Texler, Russia is talking about freezing January production levels. January output was around 1.5% higher than the annual average for 2015.

Novak also said it was "discussed with colleagues" that an oil price of $50 per barrel would suit consumers and exporters in the long term. He did not elaborate.

The minister believes that if the Doha agreement enters into force, Russia's market share would remain unchanged.