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Rosneft has capacity to raise crude oil output by year end: CEO Sechin

London — Top Russian crude producer Rosneft will be able to offer additional crude to the market by the end of the year and will have further capacity increases available next year, its CEO, Igor Sechin, said Thursday.

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Sechin answered "Of course," when asked by reporters at an event in Verona, Italy whether Rosneft can pump more in the last months of this year.

Rosneft, which was responsible for most of Russia's 300,000 b/d production cut under a 2016 agreement with OPEC, increased its output to 4.444 million b/d in September from 4.261 million b/d in May, a rise of 183,000 b/d.

In June the parties to the 2016 agreement agreed to increase their production to ensure 100% compliance with the deal, rather than over-compliance, thus restoring some 1 million b/d to the market.

Despite this, concerns persist over supply shortages as US sanctions against Iran come into full force next week, with various forecasts estimating at least 1 million b/d of Iranian output will leave the market.

Russia and Saudi Arabia are looked to as countries most able to increase their production in response to output woes elsewhere, although Russia's actual spare capacity remains unclear.

Rosneft's production is set to grow further in 2019 as it will launch "more than seven major fields in the next 18 months," Sechin said in Verona, at the Eurasia Economic Forum.

Russia can pump an additional 200,000-300,000 b/d "within several months," even after achieving an all-time production high in September, energy minister Alexander Novak commented earlier this month.

--Nadia Rodova,

--Nick Coleman,

--Edited by Maurice Geller,