November 26, 2015 / 4:15 PM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 1-Russia, Saudi Arabia set up working group on oil, gas cooperation

(Adds further comments by Novak, details of OPEC meeting)

MOSCOW, Nov 26 (Reuters) - Russia and Saudi Arabia will set up a special joint working group on oil and gas cooperation to promote energy dialogue between the world’s top oil producers, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Thursday.

OPEC made a historic policy shift late last year, led by Saudi Arabia and backed by its Gulf allies, and refused to cut production to prop up sliding prices in order to defend market share. The group confirmed the strategy at a meeting in June.

Russia, which is not a member of OPEC and depends heavily on oil revenues for its budget, has so far resisted making cuts to production, in part because it is locked in a battle for market share and knows a cut could see it cede ground.

Novak, speaking at a regular meeting of Russian and Saudi Arabian government officials in Moscow, said Russia would continue cooperation with Saudi Arabia’s oil ministry.

He also said consultations between OPEC and other oil producers were “important”, adding Russia was ready to continue cooperation in the process.

“We highly value our interaction within consultations on the situation in the oil market between OPEC and leading non-OPEC producers,” Novak said.

Russia accounts for about 12 percent of global oil output. Saudi Arabia is the world’s top exporter of crude.

Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries ministers are set to meet next in Vienna on Dec. 4 to coordinate the group’s production.

Consultations between OPEC and non-OPEC producers are expected to take place before the group’s meeting.

“We believe that the consultations is a very important and very time process. Russia is ready to continue cooperation in this,” the minister added. (Reporting by Olesya Astakhova; writing by Vladimir Soldatkin; editing by Susan Thomas)

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