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Russia tells OPEC: We never promised you anything

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia, fresh from a record month of oil production, will be able to invest in new fields at current crude prices and makes no apologies to OPEC for refusing to rein in output, Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko said.

“We never had any obligations (to OPEC). When we were communicating, we never promised anything,” Shmatko said late on Thursday. “To say that we do not abide by the rules is not correct.”

Russian oil output hit a record monthly high in August, nearing 10 million barrels per day, as the world’s second-largest crude exporter launched a major new field in the Arctic and grabbed more market share from OPEC.

OPEC Secretary-General Abdullah al-Badri, speaking after an OPEC meeting in Vienna on Thursday, said the lack of any tangible cooperation from non-member Russia in the group’s output cuts “not encouraging.”

Russia took a hit when oil prices plunged last year, stripping the country of a vital source of budget revenues. A bounce in the oil price since has brought early signs of economic recovery.

“One always wants something better. One can always say that, at a higher price, some projects will be more profitable, but today the price of oil does not set any limits for the oil industry’s development,” Shmatko said.

Shmatko also said Russian oil producers would be able to avail themselves of a zero duty on exports from 13 oilfields in East Siberia by the end of September. No time limit has been set for the tax breaks.

Russia would also regulate its oil sector should crude prices plunge again, he said. “If there are negative dynamics in the price of oil, we will regulate.”

Reporting by Gleb Bryanski, editing by Robin Paxton

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