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Putin says Russia comfortable with $60/b oil price, to continue work with OPEC

Moscow — Russia remains comfortable with oil prices even though they have recently reduced to around $60/b President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday, also reiterating that his country remains committed to continuing its cooperation with OPEC.

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Speaking just days before the meeting by the OPEC coalition in Vienna next week, Putin said Russia "will continue this joint work" with the group of oil producing countries "if needed."

In Vienna, the group is to discuss further cooperation steps as concerns of oversupply crept back into the market Tuesday, with ICE January Brent settling 27 cents lower at $60.21/b.

Russia is the key non-OPEC partner in the production cut deal with OPEC that has been in force since the beginning of 2017.

Participants in the deal will meet next week in Vienna to discuss amendments to the agreement, which may include a cut in output targets and a move away from using October 2016 production to more recent data as a baseline to measure compliance.

The issue is also likely to be discussed this weekend in Argentina during the G20 meeting as leaders of Saudi Arabia, US and Russia, among others, expected to attend it.

Putin Wednesday prized highly the role of Saudi Arabia, and its crown prince Mohammed bin Salman in particular, in the so far successful cooperation within the production cut deal.

For Russia, meanwhile, the oil prices remains comfortable as its budget is based on much lower prices, Putin said, speaking to the Russia Calling! Investment forum in Moscow.

"I think the level of around $60/b is acceptable for us as our budget is balanced at just over $40/b, for next year it is calculated at $43/b," Putin said.

Putin also reiterated that Russia remains open for cooperation with any partners, including the US, despite sanctions imposed on his country but Moscow would work further on moving away from dollar in bilateral trading with other countries.

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Concerns over potential new financial sanctions by the US on Russia that may hinder dollar-denominated transactions is pushing Moscow to intensify the work to establish trading in alternative currencies.

"We don't have a goal to move away from dollar, but dollar is moving away from us," Putin joked.

"We are working actively now with some of our major economic partners on the establishment of systems independent from SWIFT, to ensure goods movement," he said.

Nearly all Russian oil majors have confirmed recently that their contracts envisage an option to switch to payments in other currencies rather than dollar in which they denominated, if needed.

--Nadia Rodova, nadia.rodova@spglobal.com

--Rosemary Griffin, rosemary.griffin@spglobal.com

--Edited by Alisdair Bowles, newsdesk@spglobal.com