Russia is not ready to discuss changes to the ongoing OPEC+ oil production cuts before the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC) next week, Russia’s top oil diplomat Alexander Novak told news agency Interfax on Tuesday.   

The monthly meeting of the JMMC panel is set for November 17, and Russia’s key partner in the deal, OPEC’s leader Saudi Arabia, said earlier this week that the pact could be changed. JMMC doesn’t have the authority to change a deal, but it can recommend actions to the full OPEC+ meeting scheduled for December 1.

“I would go and argue it could be a tweak even beyond what the so-called analysts are talking about,” Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, told the ADIPEC conference on Monday.

The OPEC+ group is currently cutting 7.7 million bpd of its collective production, with Russia and Saudi Arabia cutting the most. The current plan of the alliance is to ease those cuts by 2 million bpd as of January 2021. Yet, the resurgence of COVID infections around the world is threatening the demand recovery and analysts say that the market can’t handle another 2 million bpd of supply while demand is still weak.

“There is no need now to discuss anything about the deal, or talk to me about the deal. There will be a JMMC meeting, there we will discuss it,” Novak told Interfax, a day after he was promoted to deputy prime minister, but is expected to continue to be the face of Russia’s oil diplomacy at OPEC+ meetings.

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Russia and Novak have always been tight-lipped about Moscow’s position ahead of meetings with the OPEC+ group.

Last week, the top executives of Russia’s oil companies discussed the future of the OPEC+ deal with Novak, including an option to extend the cuts as-is for three months until March 2021, instead of easing the cuts from January as planned, sources with knowledge of the matter told Interfax. Russian oil firms are against the idea aired recently by some partners in the deal that OPEC+ should even deepen the current cuts in the first quarter next year. Russia’s oil companies are not ready and willing to deepen the cuts; the maximum they could agree to would be extending the current production cuts through the first quarter of 2021, a source told Interfax.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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