06:32 GMT10 July 2020
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    The Russian president and members of the cabinet and oil industry officials met via videoconference on Friday to discuss the situation on the global energy markets. Oil prices suffered their worst decline in decades in March after Russia and Saudi Arabia failed to reach a deal on output cuts amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

    The current slump in demand for oil could lead to shortages in the future when the global economy enters a period of economic recovery, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said.

    "Demand will inevitably begin to recover, and a situation of an acute shortage of oil may arise, with all the negative consequences for the world economy [that go with it], because prices may skyrocket," Putin said, speaking to officials and oil industry representatives on Friday. Putin added that it was the world's common interest to avoid such a scenario.

    Today, the situation on energy markets remains difficult, with demand continuing to fall, Putin noted. This undermines investments and threatens the workforce, and Russia would prefer long-term stability on the oil market, he added.

    "I want to emphasize that our country has always advocated and is advocating for the long-term stability of the oil market, taking into account the positions of both producers and consumers," Putin said.

    According to the Russian president, the current situation poses not only economic risks, but technogenic and ecological ones as well. Putin noted that he spoke to US President Donald Trump about the energy markets situation earlier this week, and that both sides expressed concerns.

    U.S. President Donald Trump stands in front of a chart tracking coronavirus cases in the United States as he faces the daily coronavirus response briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 31, 2020.
    © REUTERS / TOM BRENNER
    U.S. President Donald Trump stands in front of a chart tracking coronavirus cases in the United States as he faces the daily coronavirus response briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 31, 2020.
    Putin said Russia would be comfortable with oil prices in the $42 per barrel range, which would allow the country to maintain a balanced budget, and was prepared for joint actions on oil markets to stabilizes prices, including willingness to work with the United States on the issue. Moscow also maintains close contact with Saudi Arabia, Putin said.

    The Russian president estimated that the world needs cuts of around 10 million barrels per day for prices to stabilize, and that cuts should be made from  Q1 2020 output levels. Russia is prepared to play its part to restore balance to the energy market, the president said.

    Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz speaks via video link during a virtual G20 summit on coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia March 26, 2020.
    © REUTERS / SAUDI ROYAL COURT
    Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz speaks via video link during a virtual G20 summit on coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia March 26, 2020.

    Russia Not Interested in Wiping Out Competitors

    At the meeting, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said some countries' decision to flood the market have put a major dent in prices, adding that it was 'unfortunate' that Saudi Arabia announced plans to boost production. Novak noted that Saudi Arabia continues to negatively influence the oil market.

    Putin agreed that Saudi Arabia's move to scrap the OPEC+ deal on cuts was one of the reasons for the sharp drop in prices, with declining demand amid the COVID-19 pandemic being the other major factor. He emphasized that it was not Russia that initiated the collapse of the OPEC+ deal.

    Putin suggested that Riyadh seems to have been trying to rid itself of competitors, particularly US shale oil, but added that Russia does not need this.

    Drilling rigs operate at sunset in Midland, Texas, U.S., February 13, 2019
    © REUTERS / Nick Oxford
    Drilling rigs operate at sunset in Midland, Texas, U.S., February 13, 2019

    The energy minister agreed that everyone, including Saudi Arabia and the US, would need to cut back production for prices to stabilize, with the cuts needing to last for at least several months, with output resuming gradually after that.

    Putin asked Novak to come up with a balanced decision on the matter, taking into consideration the common interests of all partners.

    OPEC+ Meeting Scheduled April 6

    Also on Friday, an OPEC source told Reuters that the cartel and its agencies were working on an 'unprecedented' cut in production equivalent to about 10 percent of total global oil supply. A meeting of OPEC+ including Russia has been scheduled for Monday, with Novak confirming to Putin that the talks have been arranged.

    Oil prices took a nosedive in early March, after OPEC+ members failed to reach an agreement on output cuts amid the COVID-19 crisis, which has led to a global downturn in economic activity. Russia proposed leaving output cuts at previously agreed upon levels, while Saudi Arabia and its allies suggested that additional cuts be made. Russia rejected the proposal, prompting Riyadh to cancel even the originally agreed upon cuts, to announce a 25 percent increase in production, and to offer heavy discounts on crude futures for April. Other countries including Russia followed suit in ramping up output, bankrupting at least one US shale producer, and leaving Moscow and Riyadh eating into their national reserve funds.

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