Russian minister says Rosneft set to lower oil output

The logo of Russia's top crude producer Rosneft is seen on the top of a building in Stavropol, southern Russia, December 9, 2014. REUTERS/Eduard Korniyenko/Files

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Rosneft ROSN.MM is set to lower oil output, Russian Natural Resources Minister Sergei Donskoi said on Tuesday, ahead of a meeting of leading global oil producers in Doha on April 17 to discuss an output freeze to support weak oil prices.

Russia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Venezuela are keen to prop up falling oil prices, which have fallen almost two thirds from a peak in June 2014. These countries have said they are ready to freeze production at January levels if other producers do the same.

Qatar has invited all OPEC members and other major producers to attend the Doha talks next month on a deal to freeze output.

Asked to comment on how a global oil production freeze would impact Russia, Donskoi said Russia’s energy firms had adjusted their production plans: “Rosneft, as it told (us), is planning to lower (output)”.

Rosneft declined to comment.

Rosneft, Russia’s biggest oil producer, has been producing at the pace of around 3.8 million barrels per day (bpd), more than a third of Russia’s total 10.88 million bpd, one of the world’s highest.

Earlier this month, industry sources told Reuters that the company floated the idea of a domestic production cut to balance the global market and as it faces a natural decline this year.

Donskoi said Lukoil LKOH.MM, which is not state-owned, did not plan to decrease production as yet. The minister also said he hoped that state-controlled Rosneft would resume drilling for oil in the Arctic next year after having no plans to do that this year.

Rosneft suspended Arctic drilling in 2014 after its partner ExxonMobil XOM.N withdrew from the Kara Sea project because of Western sanctions imposed on Moscow over its role in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Reporting by Olesya Astakhova; Writing By Denis Pinchuk; Editing by Dmitry Solovyov and Jane Merriman