MBS, Putin discuss Opec+ cooperation, Ukraine

MOSCOW: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a “positive assessment” about their cooperation in the Opec+ alliance in a phone call on Saturday, the Kremlin said. The leaders also discussed the situation in Ukraine during the talks, the Kremlin added.

The call is the second between the two leaders since Russia began its military offensive in Ukraine in late February. They had previously spoken on March 3.

“Bilateral relations between the two countries and ways of enhancing them in all fields in a way that achieves the interests of the two countries were discussed [at the call],” the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said, without providing details about Opec+ or energy talks.

Prince Mohammed “asserted the support of the kingdom for efforts that would lead to a political solution to the crisis in Ukraine and achieve security and stability”, it said.

The war in Ukraine, which led to western sanctions on Russian oil and gas exports, pushed crude prices up, with Brent touching a notch under $140 per barrel in March. Prices have since cooled, as supply has been boosted in the market and demand has dampened slightly, due to Covid-19 lockdowns in China.

The 23-member Opec+ group, which includes Russia, is unwinding record output cuts put in place in 2020. The group plans to add another 432,000 bpd of crude to the market in May, staying the course of incremental increases in global oil supply and resisting calls to increase supply further to balance prices in the market.

The group will hold its next meeting on May 5 to review market dynamics and decide about future production.

Russia is the world’s second-largest energy exporter, accounting for about 10 per cent of the world’s energy output, including 17 per cent of its natural gas and 12 per cent of its oil.

The US and UK have already banned Russian energy imports and Moscow’s oil supply is expected to decline further, according to the International Energy Agency.

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