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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

OPEC Hopeful Russia Will Prolong Oil Cuts

CANBERRA, Australia -- OPEC Secretary-General Ali Rodriguez said Tuesday he hoped Russia would prolong curbs on oil exports beyond the first quarter of 2002, as second-quarter oil demand looked worse than the first quarter with stocks high.

Rodgriguez and OPEC President Rilwanu Lakman plan to meet Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov from March 3-5 to lobby the world's No. 2 oil exporter to prolong a three-month curb on its exports despite opposition from some Russian oil companies.

"I can't state anything on behalf of Russia but I believe we can discuss this problem because effectively the second quarter will be worse than this first quarter," Rodriguez said in an interview in the Australian capital.

Rodriguez was hopeful Russia would agree to continue its curb on exports, although many Russian oil companies are opposed to the cut that trimmed crude exports by 150,000 barrels per day, building up a bottleneck in its domestic pipeline system.

"We have to avoid a new crisis in oil prices, and in order to avoid this kind of crisis, we need to coordinate policies," Rodriguez said.

"It's a common interest, as we are facing normally the same problems we have to maintain [a] common position of solidarity, and cooperation is very important."

Last week Saudi Arabia's Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said his country, the world's biggest oil exporter and kingpin of the Organization for the Petroleum Exporting Countries, could wait until early 2003 before reversing some of its output cuts.

Oil prices have slumped around 30 percent since the Sept. 11 hijacked airline attacks in the United States sent already troubled global demand tumbling.

OPEC has slashed output quotas four times in the past 14 months in efforts to stem flagging oil prices, including an agreement with five non-aligned producers to cut 2 million bpd from Jan. 1.

Rodriguez, in Australia for three days of meetings with government ministers and oil companies, said OPEC had to act.

"Our main role is to maintain stability, and all our actions last year were aimed to guarantee stability and avoid a collapse in prices," he said. "This year the situation is better but in the second quarter of this year we will face new problems with demand because for the time being the stocks are very high."

Rodriguez said OPEC would need to keep a tight rein on the market until later in 2002.

"So maybe our intention will be to maintain the same decision as December and wait until the second half of this year because different forecasts and different analysts think that the situation in the second half will be lot better than now," he said.