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    VIENNA, MARCH 31, 2004, (RIA NOVOSTI) - Russia is still in favor of the 1999 oil price bracket, with the threshold set at 22 dollars per barrel and the ceiling at $28, Deputy Energy Minister Alexander Voronin said as he spoke at a Vienna conference of the Organization of Petroleum-Exporting Countries Wednesday. He leads the Russian delegation to the current OPEC conference.

    Addressing the gathering, Voronin pointed out that in the past four years, Russia had more than one opportunity to see that the $22-$28 bracket was optimal. According to him, keeping within that bracket has helped Russia prevent panic and hype on the oil market and has made it possible for domestic companies not just to keep up production levels, but to make heavy investment in the industry's development, as well.

    Joint efforts and coordinated steps taken in recent years have allowed to maintain the world oil prices at a level acceptable both to producers and consumers of hydrocarbon fuels, Voronin noted. He went on to reaffirm Russia's willingness to continue talks with the OPEC, multilaterally and bilaterally alike, including talks between the energy ministers of Russia and OPEC member nations within the framework of bilateral cooperation.

    Russia has been taking part in OPEC conferences since 1998, and it has been among the attendees at consultations between experts from member and non-member nations since 2003, Voronin reminded his audience. He said this was a reflection of his country's consistent course toward closer interaction with the oil cartel.

    According to the Russian deputy minister, participation in OPEC events enables his country's government to sustain meaningful dialogue with top energy officials in countries that are among the world's major producers of hydrocarbon fuels and that therefore determine the level of oil prices on the global commodity market.

    "We believe we have a shared interest in getting reliable updates on the situation on the world's oil markets as well as in short- and mid-term development forecasts," Voronin said to the OPEC conference.

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