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Russia oil output increase would take time, warn experts

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Russia oil output increase would take time, warn experts

Vienna — Russia wants a new deal with OPEC to boost production but leading expertsare questioning the country's ability to deliver more than 100,000 b/d ofadditional crude immediately to the market.

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Closely allied with heavyweight Saudi Arabia, Moscow is pushing for apotential phased increase of 1.5 million b/d, which would effectively bring toan end OPEC's current pact with producers outside the grouping.

However, production increases could prove to be slower and morecomplicated to deliver given the high decline rates of Russian oil fields,which would need to be offset.

"We got a range of 100,000-300,000 b/d as their potential upside but Ithink it will take time to bring on the upper level," said Chris Midgley, headof S&P Global Platts Analytics.

Russian energy minister Alexander Novak will be in Vienna later this weekto agree production strategy with OPEC, which could see their current policyof cutting 1.8 million b/d of crude from the market abandoned.

Russia and Saudi Arabia have been pushing to ease back quotas in responseto concerns expressed by major consumer nations.

In Russia the production cut was divided roughly proportionally acrossproducers.

Rosneft estimates that it could bring the 100,000 b/d it cut under thedeal back to market within two months, if restrictions are lifted.

It recently said that tests carried out over three days revealed aproduction increase of 57,000 b/d on day one, 70,000 b/d on day two and anexpected 80,000-85,000 b/d on day three, analysts at Aton said followingmeetings with Rosneft officials.

Gazprom Neft has said that it could restore the 34,000 b/d it cut withina month or two. Lukoil said it could quickly restore around half of its cappedoutput quickly.

Christian Boermel, senior analyst for Russia upstream at consultancy WoodMackenzie, said that a return to pre-agreement output levels would take asimilar amount of time as the cut -- about half a year.

Russia produced 11.2 million b/d in October 2016, the month used as thebaseline to measure its commitment to cut 300,000 b/d.

"To implement the OPEC+ cut, Russian producers reduced the amount of newwells drilled and delayed some greenfields, for example Trebs and Titov,"Boermel said. "It took Russia six months to cut 300,000 b/d and we assume thata similar timeframe is required to ramp up production again."

Novak has declined to comment on how many additional barrels Russia canbring to market but has said it is possible Russia could increase output inthe third quarter, although "now is not the time to take a decision for a halfor full year ahead".

The International Energy Agency last week forecast that Russian crudeproduction would rise by 160,000 b/d next year as the cuts unwind.

"The outlook for Russia depends on the outcome of the Vienna Agreementmeeting later this month. What is clear is that Russian producers stand readyto boost output if free to do so," the IEA said.

-- Staff, newsdesk@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Alisdair Bowles, alisdair.bowles@spglobal.com