Russia, Saudi Arabia back extension of oil output cuts

By The Associated Press

Russia and Saudi Arabia said Monday they want to extend oil production cuts through the first quarter of 2018, in a move the two major producers say would support the market price.

This Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011 file photo shows an oil rig near the town of Usinsk, 1500 km (930 miles) northeast of Moscow, Russia. Russia and Saudi Arabia said Monday May 15, 2017, they want to extend oil production cuts through the first quarter of 2018, in a move the two major producers say would support the market price. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky, File)

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia and Saudi Arabia said Monday they want to extend oil production cuts through the first quarter of 2018, in a move the two major producers say would support the market price.

Oil prices rose on the announcement that the countries want to extend the deal, which encompasses both nations in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and some non-OPEC countries like Russia.

The Russian Energy Ministry says extending the cuts through March 31, 2018, would show "producers' determination to ensure stability, predictability and incremental development of the market."

Russia and Saudi Arabia will now hold consultations with other producers "with the aim of achieving complete consensus" on the extended production cuts before the scheduled OPEC meeting May 25 in Vienna.

"I met the managers of all the main oil and gas companies in the country, and the minister of energy, behind closed doors and we discussed this issue," Russian President Vladimir Putin said in comments reported by Russian news agencies. "We support this proposal."

The international benchmark for crude oil was up $1.35, of 2.7 percent on the day, at $52.19 a barrel on the news.

In late November, OPEC agreed to cut production by 1.2 million barrels a day, the first such reduction agreement since 2008. The following month, 11 non-OPEC oil-producing countries pledged to cut another 558,000 barrels a day, bringing the overall reduction to 1.8 million barrels a day.

Oil producers have been trying to boost prices, as crude futures trade around $50 a barrel, less than half their level from early 2014, though above the low of below $30 in early 2015.

The joint announcement by Russia and Saudi Arabia chimes with a statement Friday by major producers Iraq and Algeria, which argued for extending the cuts through the end of the year.

Following the Russia-Saudi statement, Kazakh Energy Minister Kanat Bozumbayev said "Kazakhstan should follow the trend," in comments reported by Russia's RIA Novosti agency. However, Bozumbayev said Kazakhstan would find it technically difficult to keep output down because it started bringing a large new field online last year.

Azerbaijan said it would support a continuation of the cuts, in comments by Energy Ministry spokeswoman Zamira Aliyeva to the Interfax-Azerbaijan agency. There was no comment on Russia and Saudi Arabia's March 31 date.

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