November 15, 2016 / 3:41 PM / 3 years ago

Saudi, Russian energy ministers may meet in Doha ahead of OPEC: sources

DUBAI (Reuters) - Saudi Arabian and Russia energy ministers could meet in Qatar this week on the sidelines of a major energy forum, industry sources said on Tuesday as OPEC and non-OPEC members try again to clinch an oil output limiting deal.

Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih talks during the 23rd World Energy Congress in Istanbul, Turkey, October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Murad Sezer/File Photo

In September, OPEC agreed at a meeting in Algeria on modest, preliminary, oil output cuts in the first such deal since 2008, with special conditions given to Libya, Nigeria and Iran, whose output has been hit by wars and sanctions.

The agreement is expected to be finalised at the next OPEC meeting on Nov. 30 in Vienna but with two weeks to go to the next gathering, disagreements persist among OPEC members and non-OPEC Russia on the exact details of the deal.

Oil prices have fallen toward $45 per barrel from over $53 per barrel in recent weeks after experts including the International Energy Agency said a failure by OPEC to reach a deal would mean the market might remain oversupplied for whole of 2017.

Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak was due in the Qatari capital, Doha, this week for the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF), which unites 12 countries including OPEC members Algeria and Iran.

Even though Saudi Arabia is not a member of GECF, Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih was due to travel to Doha this week for meetings with peers on the sidelines of the forum, three sources familiar with the matter said.

Falih was expected to meet other energy ministers from OPEC and possibly Novak on Friday, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the meetings were not made public. 

It was not immediately clear whether Falih would meet Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh, the sources said, as there was no confirmation from Tehran yet on whether Zanganeh would attend the gas forum.

Iran, which remains one of the main stumbling blocks to a final deal, has refused to cap production below 4 million barrels per day (bpd) as it seeks to regain market share lost under sanctions. Tehran said it pumped 3.92 million bpd in October.

Russia has said it prefers to freeze output while OPEC wants Moscow to contribute to cuts. Iraq has also signaled it wanted its production to be calculated according to its own estimates and not the estimates of OPEC.

Writing by Rania El Gamal; Editing by Dale Hudson/Ruth Pitchford

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