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Russia, OPEC Will Not Move Forward Their Next Meeting

Despite the uncertainty on the oil market amid the coronavirus outbreak, there is a common understanding among the OPEC+ coalition that ministers do not need to move forward their meeting planned for the first week of March, Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak told reporters in Moscow on Thursday.  

Faced with a slump in global oil demand due to the coronavirus outbreak, the producers of the OPEC+ production cut pact were considering moving the March 5-6 meeting to some date in February, in order to react to the depressed demand and the slide in oil prices. 

The OPEC+ group’s joint technical committee (JTC) issued a proposal on February 8 that the producers extend the cuts as-is until the end of 2020 and deepen those cuts in the second quarter in response to the fact that the coronavirus “has had a negative impact on oil demand and oil markets.”

Russia, however, has taken time to review the proposal and has been avoiding for weeks now a direct reply to the proposal.

On Thursday, minister Novak dodged again a specific reply and reiterated that Russia hasn’t made a decision yet and continues to hold discussions with its partners, as carried by Russian news agency TASS.

Related: EIA Cuts 2020 Oil Demand Forecast By 378,000 Bpd

Earlier this week, Novak held separate telephone conversations with Saudi Arabia’s energy minister, Abdulaziz bin Salman, and with Iran’s oil minister Bijan Zanganeh, and discussed the cooperation in the OPEC+ format in both conversations, Russia’s energy ministry said.

Novak said today he doesn’t see any need to move the planned meetings to an earlier date, stressing that the situation is still highly uncertain and fast-changing, and it makes sense to wait to see how it will be two weeks from now. Asked whether Russia is ready to join other OPEC+ producers in deeper cuts, Novak only said that “we will monitor how the situation evolves,” and noted that oil prices have already risen by 10 percent from their recent low.

OPEC’s Secretariat has sent the oil producing countries the official invitations for the meeting, which will be held on March 5-6, as planned, sources from the delegations told TASS on Wednesday.  

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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