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MOSCOW (Reuters) – OPEC and Russia will exit from oil production cuts very smoothly, possibly extending the curbs in some form to avoid creating any new surplus in the market, the Russian energy minister told Reuters.
Alexander Novak also said in comments cleared for publication on Friday that he saw no direct connection between the oil cuts and Saudi Arabia’s plan to list Saudi Aramco, the world’s top oil producer.
“Everyone in the market is interested in achieving balance,” Novak said in response to a question on whether Saudi Arabia could abruptly exit the cuts as soon as it lists Aramco sometime in 2018. The share sale promises to be the world’s biggest.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other large oil producers led by Russia agreed last month to extend until the end of next year their deal to cut a combined 1.8 million barrels per day of output.
The move is aimed at clearing a global stocks overhang and propping up oil prices.
Russia and Saudi Arabia have significantly improved bilateral ties this year, resulting in a visit to Moscow by Saudi King Salman accompanied by a large political and business delegation.
Oil is a key source of budget revenue for both countries and Novak said he expected prices to fluctuate at $50-$60 per barrel next year.
On Thursday, King Salman and Russian President Vladimir Putin held a telephone conversation during which they agreed to continue close cooperation to ensure stability on global hydrocarbon markets.
A YEAR OF BALANCE
OPEC and Russia together produce more than 40 percent of the world’s oil. Moscow’s cooperation on output cuts with OPEC, arranged with Putin’s help, has been crucial in roughly halving an excess of global oil stocks since January.