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Russia invited to be OPEC observer by Saudi Arabia: energy minister Novak

Vienna — Saudi Arabia has invited Russia to become an observer member of OPEC,Russian energy minister Alexander Novak said Saturday.

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The move would add the world's largest oil producer as a non-votingmember, formalizing a relationship that began when Russia and other smallerallies joined OPEC in a production cut deal finalized in 2016.

"There is such an option, [and] we are studying it closely now," Novaktold reporters in Vienna after the OPEC/non-OPEC coalition finalized a 1million b/d production increase.

OPEC officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Russia and Saudi Arabia have warmed ties in recent years out of a mutualdesire to increase oil prices that underpin their economies.

The OPEC/non-OPEC coalition now controls almost half of global crudeproduction, and OPEC officials have said they plan to present a proposal bythe end of the year to make permanent some kind of cooperative agreement amongthe 24 countries.

"We are confident of continuing together in the future," said UAE energyminister Suhail al-Mazrouei, who is serving as OPEC's rotating president thisyear. "It is important to keep our momentum and to keep delivering to themarket full stability."


--Edited by Andy Critchlow,