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Keeping OPEC/non-OPEC oil output cuts could lead to severe Q3 market tightness: Novak

Vienna — Peak summer demand could drain global oil inventories to critical levelsif the OPEC/non-OPEC coalition leaves its production cut agreement in place,Russian energy minister Alexander Novak said Tuesday.

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That would leave producers unable to respond to any disruptions and leadto a price spike, he said in Minsk ahead of OPEC/non-OPEC meetings scheduledlater this week in Vienna.

"The third quarter...features the highest demand for oil. So, oilshortages are not ruled out, if measures are not taken," Novak said, asreported by Prime news agency. "Stocks will be reducing drastically and thiscan overheat the market, we believe."

Non-OPEC Russia has proposed a 1.5 million b/d production increase, andkey OPEC ally Saudi Arabia appears on board with easing quotas.

Novak said the market appeared capable of absorbing an increase inproduction, noting that prices in recent days had remained stable around$74-$75/b amid market chatter of what the OPEC/non-OPEC coalition could andshould do.

"I think that prices are fairly balanced now," he said.

Any production increase agreed by the OPEC/non-OPEC coalition would onlybe for the next few months, he said, adding that another meeting could becalled in September to decide if any further adjustments were needed.

"We are very flexible. We understand that now it is not the time to takea decision for a half of the year ahead or a year ahead," Novak said.

But Iran, Iraq and Venezuela have said they were adamantly opposed tochanging the deal, which commits the 24 countries to 1.8 million b/d in supplycuts through the end of the year.

Novak said none of the three countries had informed him officially aboutany plans to veto a decision to raise output.

And he declined to say what proposals Saudi energy minister Khalidal-Falih has offered. The two met in Riyadh over the weekend to discuss thedeal, after meeting in Moscow last week at the World Cup opener between thetwo countries' soccer squads.

"I won't speak for him, let the minister comment himself," Novak said."In general, I discussed [it] with him, he believes that there is viable toconsider the issue of quotas' increase."

OPEC meets Friday to decide on production policy, with the non-OPECpartners joining talks on Saturday.

Novak will not attend OPEC's pre-meeting seminar, despite being scheduledto speak, a ministry spokeswoman said earlier Tuesday, due to a meetingRussian President Vladimir Putin has called.

Novak will arrive in Vienna for talks on Thursday, but will not be intown when OPEC holds its ministerial meeting Friday, though he will returnSaturday, according to spokeswoman Olga Golant.

The seminar, a two-day conference featuring ministers, oil major CEOs andother officials, is Wednesday and Thursday, and serves as a venue forbilateral and multilateral talks.

Novak had been on the program as a keynote speaker Wednesday morning fora session titled 'Sustainable Global Energy Future', along with Saudicounterpart Khalid al-Falih and other ministers.


--Edited by Daniel Lalor,