Kremlin Sees Hope for Oil Freeze Deal Regardless of Iran

  • Russia, Saudi ministers held phone talks ahead of Doha summit
  • Novak reported to Putin on talks with Saudi Arabia: Kremlin

Russia sees a deal to freeze oil output as possible when it meets other producers including Saudi Arabia this weekend, regardless of Iran’s stance.

“There is hope,” Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin’s press secretary, said following the latest conversation between Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak and his Saudi counterpart.

At least 15 nations including the world’s two largest crude oil producers will gather in Doha on April 17 to discuss freezing output in order to stabilize an oversupplied market. Saudi Arabia has said that its commitment to a production cap would depend on Iran’s participation, while the oil minister in Tehran has dismissed the prospect of joining the deal as “ridiculous” for now.

Novak spoke to Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi by phone on Tuesday to discuss prospects for a production freeze, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said. Russia is hopeful that a deal can be reached, the person said, asking not to be identified because the discussions are private. The person declined to comment on whether anything was agreed on the call.

Oil fell 2 percent to $43.81 a barrel at 8:04 a.m. on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange, after surging 4.3 percent Tuesday following a report from Interfax news service that Saudi Arabia and Russia have reached a consensus on the production freeze, regardless of whether Iran agrees to join.

Novak confirmed he talked with the Saudis, without elaborating, state-run Tass news service reported Wednesday, citing an interview with the minister. Everything is possible at the Sunday summit in Doha, including a freeze that doesn’t depend on Iran, he was cited as saying. Novak has briefed President Vladimir Putin on the results of his latest talks, Peskov said, also declining to provide details.

Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh hasn’t made a final decision on whether he will attend the Doha talks, Akbar Nematollahi, director general of public relations at the Oil Ministry, said by phone Wednesday.

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