Russia yet to finalize stance before OPEC+ considers deeper oil cuts

Russia yet to finalize stance before OPEC+ considers deeper oil cuts
Russia agreed to reduce output by 228,000 barrels per day (bpd) to about 11.18 million bpd in 2019 as part of cuts agreed by the group known as OPEC+. (AFP)
Updated 03 December 2019

Russia yet to finalize stance before OPEC+ considers deeper oil cuts

Russia yet to finalize stance before OPEC+ considers deeper oil cuts
  • Russia agreed to reduce output by 228,000 barrels per day to about 11.18 million bpd in 2019
  • But it pumped more than its quota in November, producing 11.244 million bpd

MOSCOW: Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Tuesday he expected this week’s meeting of OPEC oil producers and their allies to be constructive but said Moscow had yet to finalize its position in talks on possible additional supply curbs.
Russia agreed to reduce output by 228,000 barrels per day (bpd) to about 11.18 million bpd in 2019 as part of cuts agreed by the group known as OPEC+. But it pumped more than its quota in November, producing 11.244 million bpd.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and other producers, which previously agreed to reduce combined output by 1.2 million bpd or 1.2 percent of global demand until March, hold discussions in Vienna on Thursday and Friday.
“I will not tell you anything now as we are still finalizing our position,” Novak told reporters. “Let’s wait ... But I think the meeting, as usual, will be of constructive nature.”
Two sources said on Monday that OPEC+ was discussing cutting output by at least an additional 400,000 bpd, as Riyadh seeks high oil prices to balance its budget and help Thursday’s pricing for Saudi Aramco’s initial public offering (IPO). The Saudis have been lobbying others to deepen cuts.
Novak said Russia’s average cut was 195,000 bpd in November and said Moscow aimed to comply fully with the quota in December.
Russia earlier called for a change to the way its output is measured to exclude gas condensate, which accounts for about 7 percent-8 percent of Russia’s total oil production, or about 800,000 bpd.
Novak told reporters he planned to discuss excluding condensate from Moscow’s quotas at the OPEC+ meeting.
By excluding condensate and only taking into account oil production, Novak said Russia’s output could be about 225,000 bpd to 230,000 bpd less in December.
“That said, we will discuss with our colleagues to take into account our statistics the same way as for OPEC countries — excluding condensate,” the minister said.
Vagit Alekperov, chief executive of Russia’s No.2 oil producer Lukoil, said in comments broadcast on Tuesday that it would not be expedient to deepen global oil production cuts in the winter season, especially for Russia.
Russian data cites production in tons. Reuters uses a conversion rate of 7.33 barrels per ton of oil.


France wants end to US-Europe trade spat

France wants end to US-Europe trade spat
Updated 17 January 2021

France wants end to US-Europe trade spat

France wants end to US-Europe trade spat
  • All eyes on President-elect Biden to resolve disputes between partners

PARIS: The EU and the incoming administration of US President-elect Joe Biden should suspend a trade dispute to give themselves time to find common ground, France’s foreign minister said in remarks published on Sunday.

“The issue that’s poisoning everyone is that of the price escalation and taxes on steel, digital technology and Airbus,” Jean-Yves Le Drian told Le Journal du Dimanche in an interview.

He said he hoped the sides could find a way to settle the dispute. “It may take time, but in the meantime, we can always order a moratorium,” he added.

At the end of December the US moved to boost tariffs on French and German aircraft parts in the Boeing-Airbus subsidy dispute, but the bloc decided to hold off on retaliation for now.

The EU is planning to present a World Trade Organization (WTO) reform proposal in February and is willing to consider reforms to restrain the judicial authority of the WTO’s dispute-settlement body.

The US has for years complained that the WTO Appellate Body makes unjustified new trade rules in its decisions and has blocked the appointment of new judges to stop this, rendering the body inoperable.

The Trump administration, which leaves office on Wednesday, had threatened to impose tariffs on French cosmetics, handbags and other goods in retaliation for France’s digital services tax, which it said discriminated against US tech firms.

Overturning decades of free trade consensus was a central part of Trump’s “America First” agenda. In 2018, declaring that “trade wars are good, and easy to win,” he shocked allies by imposing tariffs on imported steel and aluminum from most of the world.

While Trump later dropped tariffs against Australia, Japan, Brazil and South Korea in return for concessions, he kept them in place against more than $7 billion worth of EU metal. The bloc retaliated with tariffs on more than $3 billion worth of US goods, from orange juice and blue jeans to Harley Davidson bikes, and took its case to the WTO.

While Biden promises to be more predictable than Trump, he is not expected to lift the steel tariffs immediately. Even if he wants to, he could run into reluctance from producers in “rust belt” states such as Michigan and Pennsylvania that secured his election win.

Hosuk Lee-Makiyama, director of trade think tank ECIPE, said the US was unlikely to award Europe a “free pass,” noting that countries that had offered concessions to have their tariffs lifted could complain if Europe won better treatment.

Resolving future trade disputes could become easier, if Biden reverses Trump policy that paralyzed the WTO by blocking the appointment of judges to its appellate body.