Novak stays on as Russian energy minister after government shake-up

FILE PHOTO: Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak attends a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), Russia June 6, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Alexander Novak has retained his post as Russian Energy Minister after a government reshuffle, the Kremlin said on Tuesday, following days of uncertainty over who would lead Moscow’s global energy diplomacy.

The 48-year-old has been in charge of the ministry since 2012 and has spearheaded Russia’s efforts to forge close ties with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other leading oil producers to support oil market and prices.

He has also overseen the Russian oil industry’s tax reforms, needed to sustain oil production in the country, where oilfields are becoming increasingly depleted.

Novak also played a leading role in securing closer bonds with OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia and helped clinch the production cuts deal in 2016.

The agreement, in its recent iteration, expires at the end of March and some market participants have been jittery over who will be in charge of the vast Russian oil sector at a time of uncertainties on the global market and rising tensions in the Middle East.

Prior to being named energy minister, Novak served as a four-year term as deputy finance minister.

Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed constitutional reforms last week, prompting the cabinet to resign.

Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; editing by David Evans