Don’t worry about oil price movement yet, Russia says

Jan. 19 (UPI) — It’s too early in 2018 to discuss stabilization for oil prices, which are down 2 percent from their peak, but up 3.5 percent so far, a Russian official said.

Crude oil prices started the year on a historic rally, moving from $66.65 per barrel for Brent, the global benchmark, to its highest close in four years, just above $70 per barrel, in a span of about a week and a half. As of early Friday, Brent was trading closer to $69 per barrel. Brent futures ended 2017 up almost 22 percent.

Arkady Dvorkovich, Russia’s deputy prime minister, said it was too early in the year to discuss the trading range.

“The oil market is volatile. One should not speak about any stability for the time being,” he was quoted as saying by Russian news agency Tass. “Prices may go down again; we monitor the situation.”

After Brent crude oil closed above $70 per barrel, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said price wasn’t driving compliance with a production policy coordinated with the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Russia is among the handful of producers party to OPEC’s effort to balance an oversupplied market for crude oil with coordinated cuts in output. Russia is also the largest non-OPEC contributor and a member of a joint committee monitoring compliance.

“We look at the balance of demand and supply in the first instance,” Novak said earlier this week.

OPEC economists in their monthly market report for January said the United States is the clear leader when it comes to adding more barrels, with an increase of 62,000 barrels per day last year. Russia added about 9,000 barrels per day to the market.

Russian oil production, as reported by OPEC, increased about 0.8 percent from 2016.

The next meeting for the monitoring committee, with Saudi Arabia and Russia as co-chairs, is Jan. 21 in Oman.

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