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Saudi Arabia And Russia Agree To Cooperate On Oil Prices

Oil minister meeting

Saudi Arabia and Russia said on Monday that they would cooperate to stabilize oil prices, a potential sign that the production freeze talks set to take place in a few weeks could be headed for a successful outcome.

Speaking on the sidelines of the G20 summit in China, the oil ministers from Saudi Arabia and Russia said that they would setup a semi-permanent working group that would monitor the oil markets and increase cooperation and mutual understanding. At the same time, they did not go as far as saying that they would agree to freeze output in Algeria later this month, but Russia’s oil minister Alexander Novak said they were discussing the outlines of such a deal.

"We have agreed with Saudi Arabia’s energy minister on joint actions aimed at stabilizing situation on the oil market. We consider a production freeze the most efficient tool, concrete parameters are being discussed at the moment," Novak said.

But Saudi Arabia’s oil minister has sent mixed messages on the Algeria talks. In August, Khalid al-Falih said that a market intervention was not necessary, but that was followed up a few days later with a comment about how such an outcome would be “positive.” Indeed, the Saudi foreign minister said last week that his country should sign onto a deal if other powers could agree to one. But on Monday, al-Falih said that the production freeze is a “favorable option but not necessary today,” he said. Related: Venezuela’s Oil Output Set To Collapse As 1 Million Take To The Streets

Taken together, the mixed signals have confused the oil markets. Oil prices surged by more than 5 percent just ahead of the news that Russia and Saudi Arabia would cooperate, but fell back again when the oil minister appeared to downplay the significance of their collaboration.

Still, the odds of a deal look better than they did a few weeks ago. At the end of last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin voiced support for a deal, and said that he would press Saudi Arabia to agree to the effort.

Over the long-term, the high-level strategic energy partnership announced on Monday offers intriguing possibilities for the oil markets. Such an announcement should be taken with a great deal of skepticism, and the ramifications from such a vague cooperative arrangement are unknown. But cooperation could lead to a more coordinated response to oil price movements in the future, potentially offering some stability to a market that has only seen volatility for the last several years.

By Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com

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Leave a comment
  • Barack Obama on September 05 2016 said:
    Big words, little action. Notice how the oil futures went down just as fast as they went up today - oil will remain low until concrete action is taken.
  • PCJMorgan on September 05 2016 said:
    Even though production freeze means little regarding the current situation with the global oil glut, this is still a positive sign for a "potential" oil recovery in the foreseeable future. Let's see how both Russia and OPEC hold their words on the cooperation promises. There's still light in the tunnel.
  • Working Stiff on September 05 2016 said:
    I'm not an intellectual or analyst by any stretch of the imagination. but can someone explain how this is not considered collusion, or is it. If this is not ethical, its a slap in the face that these meetings are publicized.
  • Mickey on September 05 2016 said:
    Yep, but both countries are at historically maximums in oil production so, their talk has no point.
  • alfa on September 06 2016 said:
    I'm not surprised if this production freeze discussion won't reach any agreement.
    It seems that Saudi is playing a prank on Russia again.

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