OPEC and non-OPEC producers have the capacity to extend and deepen their production cuts if the oil market’s situation become even more complex, Russian Oil Minister Alexander Novak told CNBC on Monday.
“If necessary, we can extend the agreement. If necessary, we can increase the amounts that need to be reduced or on the contrary, we can move to reduce them,” Novak said, according to a CNBC translation, on the sidelines of the World Petroleum Congress in Istanbul.
In May, OPEC and allied non-OPEC members, such as Russia, agreed to cap oil production through to March 2018. However, despite OPEC and non-OPEC producers ratifying a deal to extend output cuts, prices have slumped.
Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, have tumbled more than 9 percent since the announcement, in part because of the increased production levels of Nigeria and Libya – two OPEC members exempt from cutting output.
‘An endless and eternal question’
Novak argued it was important to remember a precedent had been created which meant OPEC and non-OPEC members could “take any decision that might have a positive influence on the industry.”
Kazakhstan’s Energy Minister, Kanat Bozumbayev, reportedly told Russia’s TASS news agency on Sunday that the country wanted a gradual exit from the OPEC-led deal either one or two months after the agreement is due to expire.
When asked whether the comments from Kazakhstan’s energy minister could signal a potential ‘free for all’ at the end of March 2018, Novak stressed it was “too early” to predict how countries would act from April 1 next year.
“When the first agreement was signed for six months, people immediately started asking me, what’s going to happen in six months? And then as soon as we extended it for another nine months everyone is interested in what will happen in nine months. It’s an endless and eternal question,” Novak said.
On Friday, OPEC delegates told Reuters they were encouraged by Russia’s openness to discussing changes regarding an OPEC-led deal to curb supplies.
The world’s leading exporter and OPEC kingpin, Saudi Arabia, and top producer Russia had previously said there was no immediate requirement for additional measures to support prices.
Several key OPEC ministers are expected to meet with Russian representatives to discuss the situation in oil markets on July 24 in St Petersburg.
Brent crude traded at around $46.82 a barrel on Monday afternoon, up 0.26 percent, while U.S. crude was around $44.32 a barrel, up 0.18 percent.