By Irina Slav | –
Russia is still negotiating an oil production freeze with OPEC, and more specifically with the organization’s number-one producer Saudi Arabia, Energy Minister Alexandr Novak said, in an interview published on Monday for Saudi newspaper Asharq al-Awsat—a move that has oil prices rising in the grasping hope that production will soon be tapered.
On Monday 11:00 am EST, WTI stood up 2.25% at $45.49 while Brent, the international benchmark, climbed 2.28% at $48.04.
Novak also said, as quoted by media, that Russia was in talks with non-OPEC producers as well, and is ready to achieve the widest possible level of coordination… and put in place joint measures to achieve oil market stability, with the condition that these measures will not be for a limited period of time.”
Novak added that he expected the international oil markets to rebalance next year and not before that, and that the Doha negotiations had “a certain positive effect” on current developments.
Russia was the initiator of the Doha talks with several OPEC members that aimed to agree on a production freeze to alleviate some of the pressure from oil markets. Many observers and analysts said at the time, however, that with both Russia and Saudi Arabia pumping crude at record levels since the start of the year, a freeze would not have much of a point.
The Russian minister’s statement comes just days after his Saudi counterpart Khalid al-Falih said Saudi Arabia is ready to co-operate with other OPEC members and other oil producers to help restore balance on the market. In an interview with Saudi Press Agency, the minister reiterated that, in his opinion, the market is already moving back towards balance.
Some observers note, however, that there have been many discrepancies between statements and actions on the part of the Saudis, and that the market is still far from rebalancing. Saudi Arabia is still pumping at record-high rates, with its July output rising to 10.67 million bpd.
Things are unlikely to change substantially at the next OPEC meeting, this time an informal one in Algeria. After all, Saudi Arabia, like its rivals, has a market share to protect and an output freeze will not really make it more flexible in this respect.
Irina Slav is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.