Novak Says No Need for OPEC Meeting on Venezuela Crisis

Russian energy minister Alexander Novak has said there is currently no need to take any extra measures or call for an extra meeting by the OPEC/non-OPEC group over the crisis in Venezuela, RIA news agency reports.

“We haven’t discussed the situation with [Saudi energy] minister Falih, or other ministers,” Novak told reporters. “The markets are currently calm … and the volatility is insignificant. So there is no need for the extra meeting of OPEC+, at least the Russian side thinks so.”

Novak’s comments echoed those by his Saudi counterpart. In an interview Monday with RIA, Falih said no action was currently required, since the Venezuela situation had so far had no effect on the market.

Novak said the full consequences of the Venezuelan crisis are hard to predict.

“It is hard to speak today about the consequences of those decisions taken by the US regarding Venezuela… I think that today it is impossible to say what the consequences will be for output,” he said, reiterating Russia’s position that the sanctions are illegal according to international law.

“So we need to monitor the situation and then, as agreed, to evaluate the situation in March,” Novak said. “Currently prices are not reacting significantly to the situation in Venezuela.”

The OPEC/non-OPEC joint ministerial monitoring committee, which includes both Saudi Arabia and Russia, is due to meet in mid-March to discuss the market situation and the progress of the latest production cut deal.

The U.S. has recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president, and Monday imposed sanctions against Venezuela’s state-owned oil company PDVSA, to divert oil revenues away from President Nicolas Maduro’s regime to Guaido’s fledgling government.

Russia has not supported Guaido and has said it will defend its extensive business interests in Venezuela, including oil assets and loans. Novak declined to comment on how these sanctions may affect Russian oil companies.