Opec expected to keep output high as Russian fears heighten

 
Caitlin Morrison
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Saudi petroleum minister Ali al-Naimi said Opec expects demand to go up later this year
BRENT crude oil fell slightly yesterday as the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) looked set to maintain production at current levels, with commentators citing concerns around Russia as a major reason behind the decision.

The benchmark price had rallied on Tuesday, helped by comments from Ali al-Naimi, Saudi Arabia’s petroleum minister, which pointed to an upswing in demand in the second half of the year.

Opec meets tomorrow, concluding two days of talks, and is widely expected to keep output high.

Meanwhile, Russian energy minister Alexander Novak has signalled that Russia take a similar stance, against the wishes of several Opec figures who fear the country’s increased output may win over key markets.

Zoya Burbeza, who represents a Russian oil major with London-based international law firm Zaiwalla & Co, said that although Western sanctions are hurting the Russian oil sector, “rather than throw in the towel” Russia has stepped up plans to join the effort to extract oil from the Arctic.

She added: “The sanctions are pushing the Russian industry to turn inward.”

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