Kudrin Dismisses OPEC Talk, Sechin Indicates Cooperation

BloombergKudrin said Russia would pursue an "independent" strategy of oil production.
Russia, the largest oil producer outside of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, will defy calls from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to join the organization in cutting output and pursue an "independent" strategy, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said.

"The government isn't planning any restrictions of oil production in the near future," Kudrin, who also serves as deputy prime minister, said in an interview in Sao Paulo Sunday. "We don't want to impose administrative barriers for restricting production. Oil businesses should estimate their own risks."

The remarks came after First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin said Russia was setting up an initial cooperation agreement with OPEC.

He added that it may be possible for OPEC and Russia to heed Chavez's call for coordination on output cuts if it is approved by the group's members.

"It's too early to discuss exactly how we will cooperate" until the two sides have a general agreement in place, he said.

Chavez said Oct. 28 that he had asked Russia to work with OPEC to reverse the slide in oil prices, which have fallen more than 50 percent in the past four months. OPEC, supplier of more than 40 percent of the world's oil, announced production cuts during September and October and may announce a further reduction at a Dec. 17 meeting in Algeria, OPEC president Chakib Khelil said Sunday.

"We are holding consultations with OPEC and our representatives are present at the OPEC meetings," because Russia is interested in learning about new technologies of oil production and ways of financing the development of oil fields, Kudrin said.