Putin vows to help ‘Arab partners’ fend off attempt to upset oil market

Updated October 14, 2019

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Russian President Vladimir Putin said in remarks aired on Sunday that global oil inventories need cutting to “reasonable levels” and that Russia would work with Saudi Arabia and other partners to “reduce to zero” attempts to destabilise oil markets. — Sputnik via Reuters/File
Russian President Vladimir Putin said in remarks aired on Sunday that global oil inventories need cutting to “reasonable levels” and that Russia would work with Saudi Arabia and other partners to “reduce to zero” attempts to destabilise oil markets. — Sputnik via Reuters/File

DUBAI: Russian President Vladimir Putin said in remarks aired on Sunday that global oil inventories need cutting to “reasonable levels” and that Russia would work with Saudi Arabia and other partners to “reduce to zero” attempts to destabilise oil markets.

Putin was speaking in an interview with Arab broadcasters including Al Arabiya TV ahead of a visit to Saudi Arabia, which comes after attacks on Saudi oil plants on Sept 14 that initially halved the output of the world’s top oil exporter.

He said that a series of strikes — on oil tankers in Gulf waters and more limited assaults on Saudi oil assets — in recent months would strengthen cooperation between producers inside and outside OPEC, an alliance known as OPEC+.

“If someone thinks such acts — seizing tankers and attacking oil infrastructure — will in any way affect Russia’s cooperation with our Arab friends, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, or in any way destroy OPEC+ cooperation, then they are all wrong,” he said according to an Arabic-language transcript shared by Saudi-owned Al Arabiya.

“Quite the opposite, this will unite us because our goal is stability of global energy markets,” he said. “But on the technical front global inventories need to be reduced to a reasonable level so they do not put pressure on prices.” OPEC, whose de facto leader is Saudi Arabia, and non-OPEC producers led by Russia have since January implemented a deal to cut oil output by 1.2 million barrels per day to support the market. The pact runs to March 2020.

Saudi Arabia has blamed regional foe and fellow OPEC producer Iran for the Sept 14 drone and missile strikes on two major oil plants, saying a preliminary investigation showed the weapons used were Iranian and that the attack came from the north. Tehran denies the charge.

Putin said that while Russia condemned such acts, there was no confirmed information about who carried out the assault.

He said anything that upsets market stability should be met with a “responsible response”, but did not elaborate.

He said Moscow would work with Riyadh and its other Arab partners to “reduce to zero” attempts to destabilise energy markets.

Published in Dawn, October 14th, 2019