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Putin says Russia can handle oil slides but hints at OPEC cooperation




MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia could cope with the recent drop in oil prices as the coronavirus spread internationally, but offered a light to OPEC as the producer group pushes for deeper supply cuts.

Moscow has resisted further restrictions, arguing that cutting output from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, known as OPEC +, would not necessarily revive the asked, sources said.

OPEC + is scheduled to meet in Vienna this week to decide on production policy when its existing supply pact expires at the end of March.

Several key members of Saudi-led OPEC are pushing for larger-than-expected production cuts, four sources told the Reuters, but Russia has not further clarified its position on proposals for further reductions.

"I want to emphasize that for the Russian budget, for our economy, the current level of oil prices is acceptable," said Mr Putin during a meeting with Russian officials and energy producers. to discuss the coronavirus and its implications.

On Friday, the price of Brent crude dropped to $ 50.05, its lowest level since late 2018, fearing that the coronavirus epidemic would trigger the destruction of demand for oil.

Russia, which has more than $ 560 billion in reserves, plans to budget an average Brent crude price of $ 42.40 a barrel, said Putin.

"Our accumulated reserves, including the National Wealth Fund, are sufficient to ensure a stable situation, the fulfillment of all budgetary and social commitments, even in the event of possible deterioration of the world economic situation," said Mr. Poutine.


He added, however, that this did not rule out the need to act, "including with foreign partners".

Putin also stressed the difficulty of predicting oil price movements and recognized that Russia must be ready for different scenarios.

OPEC + has "proven to be an effective instrument for ensuring long-term stability in world energy markets", he said at the meeting, with his published comments on the Kremlin website.

"Thanks to this, we have obtained additional budgetary revenues and, what is important, we have offered upstream businesses the opportunity to invest confidently in promising development projects."

Putin asked meeting attendees to comment on other possible actions on the world oil market and said he hoped Russia's measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus were effective .

"The situation is generally under control," he said.

Russia has restricted entry for Chinese, South Korean and Iranian citizens and has declared that it will deport 88 foreign nationals for alleged violations of quarantine measures.

Three Russian nationals are receiving treatment in Russia after contracting the virus on a cruise ship in Japan, authorities said. Two Chinese nationals were transported to hospital in Russia with the virus but have since recovered.

Last week, the ruble slipped past 67 to the lowest dollar since early 2019, and the stock market plummeted, causing global sales and further escalating tensions with Turkey over Syria.

(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin and Andrey Ostroukh; Writing by Polina Ivanova and Andrey Ostroukh; Editing by Susan Fenton and David Goodman)

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