Russia quietly cutting oil output while looking at broader prospects – Energy Minister

Russia quietly cutting oil output while looking at broader prospects – Energy Minister
Moscow is fully complying with the deal to cap oil production, while accurately evaluating longer-term structural developments in the market, according to Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak.

In March, the country’s producers reduced output by 200,000 barrels per day as the decrease in January and February was ahead of the original plans, according to the minister.

“Russia is reducing its oil production in stages, in accordance with the plans we worked out voluntarily with our production companies,” Novak said in an interview with CNBC at the International Artic Forum in Arkhangelsk on Thursday.

“We anticipate complying with the figure outlined in the agreement by the end of April,” he said, stressing that the reduction target was 300,000 barrels per day.

According to Novak, overall supply and demand trends will be a major reason for Russia to support renewing the agreement at the end of May.

“Undoubtedly, and this could be an even more important factor, is the situation on the market linked with the balance between supply and demand and the situation with regards to the development of the situation with oil reserves and oil product reserves in the OECD countries and the countries in the world as a whole,” said the energy minister.

“And we will be following this closely; it will be important for us to know what's going to happen in April, the forecasts for May and June and the second half of next year,” he stressed.

The minister has also pointed to the importance of the Arctic region for Russia's energy strategy.

“Currently, we are producing about 17 percent of our total oil production in the Arctic. In 20 years, in accordance with our strategic plans, this share will increase to as much as 26 percent. But the figures for gas will be even more interesting to you. We currently produce 80 percent of our gas in the Arctic,” he said, adding that new production was ongoing on the Arctic shelf.

The minister’s comments followed the recent changes in US policy to increase the country’s energy independence. There has been a resurgence in the activity of US shale producers that could lead to increased supply to the global market given a rebound in the oil price.

READ MORE: Oil prices rise as OPEC considers extending cuts

“As far as energy independence is concerned I don't think this is anything new for the United States. It's unlikely that at any time it was ever US policy to increase its dependence on imported energy resources,” he said.

At the same time, the boost in shale oil production may reach up to 400,000 barrels a day this year, according to Novak.

“It's clear that we are all assessing the situation in a sober fashion, we understand that there will be a rise in the production of shale oil. Again I want to say that we need to look at the situation as a whole throughout the world,” the energy minister concluded.