Russia sees oil leverage with Saudi partnership

June 25 (UPI) — The head of Russia’s sovereign wealth fund said Monday that coordinating with Saudi Arabia consolidated its leadership position in the global oil market.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak sat next to his Saudi counterpart, Khalid al-Falih, at a regular meeting for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries that wrapped up during the weekend in Vienna. Russia is the largest non-OPEC contributor to an effort to stabilize the oil market through coordinated production efforts.

Kirill Dmitriev, the CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, said in a statement emailed to UPI that long-term cooperation with Saudi Arabia would help guarantee a stable price for crude oil.

“The Russia-Saudi alliance has already demonstrated its leading role,” he said.

Novak added his signature to a joint statement from OPEC ministers during the weekend committing to holding compliance with the production effort to 100 percent. The lack of oil from OPEC founding member Venezuela, which is facing crippling economic pressures, has helped push compliance well above 100 percent.

Compliance as of May was around 147 percent. New efforts would begin in July and could lead to an increase in global production levels of as much as 1 million barrels of oil per day.

The OPEC-led effort is now in its second year. Coordinated in November 2016, it helped pull crude oil prices away from historic lows below $30 per barrel. The price for Brent crude oil, the global benchmark, was around $74 per barrel early Monday, down from a yearly high of around $80 per barrel.

The price of oil spiked this year because of geopolitical tensions, threats of a global trade war and sanctions pressures on Iran and Venezuela. OPEC’s weekend decision to ease compliance was seen as a way to keep the market from overheating.

Novak said during the weekend Russia could add about 175,000 barrels of oil per day to the market in the second half of the year.

The minister was quoted by Russian news agency Tass as saying Russia could join OPEC with observer status.

“This option really exists,” he said.

OPEC adopted the membership of the Republic of the Congo during the weekend, bringing the total number of member states to 15.

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