Russia aims to keep oil output around current level after OPEC deal

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak attends the 15th International Energy Forum Ministerial (IEF15) in Algiers, Algeria September 27, 2016. REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia is aiming to keep its oil production at near-record levels despite OPEC’s decision to modestly reduce its output, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Thursday.

Oil producers’ group OPEC agreed on Wednesday to limit its output to 32.5-33.0 million barrels per day (bpd) to prop up weak crude prices that have hurt commodity-dependent economies across the world.

Novak’s comments are the first high-level response to the deal from non-OPEC member Russia, a major crude producer.

The Russian minister said Moscow was ready to consider proposals from OPEC for joint action on the oil market and would hold consultations with the group in October and November.

“There is still a number of details which OPEC countries must work out,” Novak said in a statement, emailed by his ministry.

“Russia will carefully consider those proposals which will be eventually drawn up. ... But our position is keeping the volume of production at the level that has been reached. These are the main principles that were earlier being considered.”

Novak said he was not ready to say at what level Russia might freeze its oil output if it agreed to take action alongside OPEC, but said a production cap could be considered for about half a year.

OPEC estimates its current output at 33.24 million bpd. Russia produced 10.71 million bpd in August, slightly down from 10.85 million bpd in July.

Reporting by Polina Devitt and Olesya Astakhova; Writing by Alexander Winning; Editing by Andrew Osborn and Mark Potter