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Russia considers extension to OPEC+ deal

Alexander Novak, Russia’s energy minister, has met with the top management of Russia’s oil companies to discuss extending the current production cuts three months into the new year.

Russia participates in the OPEC+ group, which encompasses all OPEC countries, plus a number of non-member oil producing countries. As part of the current deal, about 7.7 million barrels per day (bpd) is being withheld from the markets to try to balance supply with demand, but this is currently scheduled to be relaxed by 2 million bpd in January.

The resurgence in coronavirus cases in Europe and the US has led to mounting speculation that this tapering could be delayed, however, with some even suggesting deeper cuts may even be needed. At the meeting with Alexander Novak, the executives discussed several scenarios, ranging from maintaining the OPEC+ deal as it stands now with the planned tapering to cutting production even further.

Oil companies in Russia have been critical of the OPEC+ deal previously, claiming that it indirectly encourages US shale producers like ExxonMobil, the oil giant that makes Mobil lubricant and grease products, to produce more oil in response to higher prices. It’s therefore unsurprising that the executives favoured the baseline scenario, although they were amenable to maintaining the current cuts a little longer if needed.

The final decision lies with the Russian government. Vladimir Putin has previously signalled that he would be willing to extend or expand the production cuts if market conditions warrant it.

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