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OPEC Head, Russians Discuss Oil Cap

August 6, 2002

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MOSCOW (AP) _ Visiting OPEC secretary general Alvaro Silva on Tuesday failed to convince Russia to reinstate its voluntary cap on crude exports, but both sides left open the possibility of a new deal.

``We have agreed to continue monitoring the global oil market and rely on the cooperation between OPEC and us in case we need it,″ said Russian Energy Ministry Igor Yusufov.

Russia, which is not a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, had agreed to cut its oil exports by 150,000 barrels a day until June in a bid to boost the sagging oil prices.

But Russia’s aggressive oil companies strongly pushed for dropping the cuts, and the Kremlin officially ended export restrictions starting in the third quarter.

OPEC, meanwhile, has decided to maintain its production ceiling through September and has remained wary about Russian oil companies’ eagerness to expand their market share at the expense of the oil cartel. Some oil analysts had predicted that the conflict might lead to a price war.

But on Tuesday, Silva and Yusufov said that was not a possibility, and tried to downplay their differences.

``Cooperation with Russia is very important,″ Silva said. ``We want to strengthen this cooperation ... which will help stabilize prices.″

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