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Russia keeps brakes on OPEC proposal for further output cuts

Highlights

Novak sees no need to rush on OPEC+ cuts stance

Proposal for 600,000 b/d deeper cut to end of second quarter

OPEC+ due to decide on cuts at March 5-6 meeting

Moscow — Russia is in no rush to announce its position on additional cuts proposed by OPEC, as nothing urgent is happening in the oil market and there are two more weeks until the scheduled OPEC, non-OPEC ministerial meeting, energy minister Alexander Novak said Thursday.

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Plans for an earlier, mid-February meeting to mitigate a drop in oil prices caused by the coronavirus outbreak were formally canceled late Wednesday as Russia, among other countries, was not convinced of the need to deepen production cuts as proposed by an OPEC+ advisory committee.

"We are discussing, we still have two weeks to announce [our position]. We will see how the situation develops, what happens in the market, and what the forecasts are by this time," Novak was quoted by Prime news agency as telling reporters.

He noted that the situation with the spreading coronavirus and its impact on oil market remained "pretty uncertain" and was "changing rapidly," contradicting previous forecasts.

"Everyone predicted that prices would fall, but prices are at $59/b already, you see. They recovered by almost 10%," the minister added.

Despite the partial recovery, oil prices are still far below the level many OPEC members need for their budgets to balance.

Novak also argued that there was "nothing extraordinary to bring forward the date" of the OPEC, non-OPEC ministerial meeting in contrast to Saudi energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman's comment that "there is a fire in the house."

A technical committee of OPEC + delegates on February 7 recommended that the 23-country coalition deepen its existing 1.7 million b/d production cut accord by 600,000 b/d through the end of the second quarter to offset any demand impact from the infection.

OPEC and its allies are next scheduled to meet in Vienna on March 5-6 to decide on the future of their agreement on production cuts that expires in April.