Saudi Energy Minister Says Russia Promised to Accelerate Oil Output Cuts

Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said on Monday he is hoping Russia will pick up on oil output cuts recently agreed with OPEC despite a slow start, CNBC reports.

“We’re committed both to the agreement in December. … All indications so far so good, the Russians have promised me that they will pick up the pace,” Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih told the news network in Riyadh.

OPEC members, along with several other countries, agreed in December on output cuts totaling 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) in order to stem a sinking market and support their own export-dependent economies. “OPEC plus” refers to the group’s cooperation with the non-OPEC producers like Russia and other former Soviet states.

Russia was more reluctant to cut its output, as its growth is heavily dependent on robust crude exports.

The country has initially let the Saudis shoulder the bulk of output cuts. The top OPEC ally, which in late 2016 began a cooperation agreement with Riyadh to stabilize oil prices, has often said that $60 per barrel is enough to meet its economic needs. Moscow in December said it would cut production by 50,000 to 60,000 barrels per day in January, whereas Saudi Arabia reportedly pledged to cut by 900,000 barrels a day compared with November levels.

Russia pumped a record 11.45 million bpd in December, an increase of 80,000 bpd on the previous month, its Energy Ministry reported in early January. Saudi Arabia’s crude output, by contrast, fell by more than 450,000 bpd from November to December.

Global benchmark Brent crude has bounced back 25 percent from its late December rout, but is still far from the more than $86 per barrel highs it witnessed in October. Brent was trading at $60.18 a barrel at 2.30 p.m. London time.