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Russia's Novak says OPEC+ may consider easing oil output caps in March

MOSCOW (Reuters) - OPEC and other leading oil producers may consider easing oil output restrictions at their meeting in March, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said in an interview aired on Monday.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak arrives at the OPEC headquarters in Vienna, Austria December 6, 2019. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, including Russia, known as OPEC+, this month decided to prolong its oil output restriction deal until the end of March and to deepen the cuts in order to balance out the oil market.

It agreed to convene again in early March to discuss policy.

“We can consider any options, including gradual easing of quotas, including continuation of the deal,” Novak told Russia’s RBC TV in an interview recorded last week.

“Everything will depend on how the situation develops in March and on the forecasts for the following quarters... At the moment, the situation is more or less stable on the market.”

Novak said that cooperation with OPEC will continue so far as it is “effective and brings results, until the market requires it”.

He said Russia’s 2019 oil output was seen at a record-high 560 million tonnes (11.25 million barrels per day) and natural gas output at 737 billion cubic metres.

Oil output is up from a post-Soviet annual average record-high of 11.16 million bpd, or 555.838 million tonnes, it pumped in 2018.

Novak, who spoke before U.S. President Donald Trump signed a sanctions bill on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, said that the project would be completed soon.

Last week, the U.S. sanctions on Nord Stream 2 prompted Swiss-Dutch contractor Allseas to suspend pipe-laying activities.

Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; writing by Anton Kolodyazhnyy; editing by Jason Neely