Azerbaijan energy firm SOCAR supports oil production freeze: TV

BAKU (Reuters) - Azerbaijan state energy company SOCAR supports proposals made by other oil producers to freeze oil production at January levels, SOCAR President Rovnag Abdullayev told ANS TV on Sunday.

Azerbaijan, along with other countries dependent on oil revenue, has been hard hit by crude prices that have fallen around 70 percent since mid-2014. Last month, it approved amendments to its 2016 budget based on an average oil price of $25 per barrel, down from $50.

“SOCAR supports OPEC initiative to freeze oil production (levels). Certain steps are already being made,” Abdullayev told ANS in an interview. He said Azerbaijan was ready to freeze 2016 oil production at January levels.

OPEC leader Saudi Arabia and non-OPEC Russia, the world’s two largest oil exporters, agreed last month to freeze output at January levels to prop up prices if other nations agreed to join the first global oil pact in 15 years.

Production in Azerbaijan, the third-largest oil producer among ex-Soviet countries, was 3.52 million tonnes, or around 830,000 barrels per day, in January, down from 3.67 million a year earlier.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Friday ex-Soviet oil producing states Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan would join talks with OPEC about stabilizing oil markets.

Novak also said a meeting between OPEC and other leading oil producers over an output freeze could take place between March 20 and April 1 in Russia, Vienna or Doha.

In 2015, Azerbaijan produced 41.7 million tonnes of oil and expected this year’s production to be 40.7 million tonnes.

Reporting by Nailia Bagirova; writing by Katya Golubkova; editing by Susan Thomas