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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Delays OPEC Decision

Russia said Monday it had agreed with local oil companies to limit output growth this year, but postponed a key decision on whether to stick with OPEC in curbing exports into the second quarter.

The world's No. 2 exporter, torn between the rival interests of growth-hungry companies and OPEC's calls for restraint, said it had plenty of time to decide whether to keep export limits beyond March to help support world prices.

"It's too premature to give any forecast. We have our commitments till April 1 and we have a whole month ahead of us," Energy Minister Igor Yusufov told reporters after talks with top OPEC officials in Moscow.

Under heavy pressure from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Moscow agreed to trim crude exports by 5 percent for three months from January to help defend prices against falling demand.

Moscow has kept international oil traders guessing about its next move as a bottleneck has built up in its huge domestic pipeline network, hitting local prices hard.

After a meeting between top OPEC officials and Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov in Moscow, the government said it had made no decision.

"Russia will make its decision taking into account the current condition of the Russian and world economy, current oil reserves and the volume of consumption," the statement said.

For this year as a whole, Yusufov said local companies had agreed to curb output growth to 5 percent to an average rate of 7.33 million barrels per day, instead of the 7 percent sought by the companies.

Russian oil output grew by 7 percent in 2001 to 6.99 million bpd.

Crude prices have recovered by 20 percent since late last year, when a stand-off between OPEC and Moscow drove Brent crude below $17 a barrel, and the cartel wants non-OPEC members to extend the cut beyond the first quarter.

OPEC President Rilwanu Lukman, in Moscow for the talks, said four non-OPEC exporters --- Norway, Mexico, Oman and Angola -- have already promised to continue the measures until the end of June to cover the second quarter, when demand normally dips after the winter peak.