Russia aims to boost its crude production by a further 300,000 barrels a day by early next year unless a deal is struck with Saudi Arabia to restrain output, two people with knowledge of the plan told the Financial Times. Moscow has been pumping flat out since June and has returned to drilling new fields, raising production to a post-Soviet high of 11.5m b/d as part of an agreement with Riyadh to keep oil markets well supplied as US sanctions crimp Iran’s oil exports.
But the scale of the production increase by Russia, whose output has jumped almost 450,000 b/d since May, alongside Saudi Arabia’s own near-record production and higher output in the US, has threatened to overwhelm oil markets, with prices falling 17 percent in the past month to $71 a barrel. The US decision to issue more waivers to Iran’s customers than expected when it reimposed sanctions this week has added to the sense in the oil market that supplies could be much higher than anticipated just a month ago when crude was at a four-year high above $86 a barrel.
Riyadh is said to be pushing Moscow to consider throttling back output in the new year to help underpin prices and keep the market balanced, fearing crude’s slide could accelerate. But Russia is said to be hesitant at this stage to agree to cuts. Its oil companies are keen to bring on new production had been hamstrung for much of the past two years by Moscow’s alliance with Riyadh, which saw them cut production from the start of 2017 to this summer. “[Russia] can still add between 200,000 and 300,000 b/d in a short time period — within several months,” one of the people said but added it depended on future decisions with its allies in Opec.
People familiar with Saudi Arabia’s thinking said it would be foolish to rule out cuts at this stage should the market face a significant oversupply in 2019 but it will not allow shortages to develop. The two countries’ oil ministers, Khalid al-Falih and Alexander Novak, are due to meet this weekend in Abu Dhabi as members of the expanded “Opec+” group convene to review market developments, ahead of a formal Opec ministerial meeting in Vienna next month.