OIL MARKET IS CALM
PLATTS - Russian energy minister Alexander Novak said Wednesday that he does not currently see a need to take any extra measures or call for an extra meeting by the OPEC/non-OPEC group over the crisis in Venezuela.
"We haven't discussed the situation with [Saudi energy] minister Falih, or other ministers," Novak told reporters. "The markets are currently calm ... and the volatility is insignificant. So there is no need for the extra meeting of OPEC+, at least the Russian side thinks so."
His comments echoed those by Falih. In an interview Monday with Russian news agency RIA Novosti, he said no action was currently required, since the Venezuela situation had so far had no effect on the market.
Novak said the full consequences of the Venezuelan crisis are hard to predict.
"It is hard to speak today about the consequences of those decisions taken by the US regarding Venezuela... I think that today it is impossible to say what the consequences will be for output," he said, reiterating Russia's position that the sanctions are illegal according to international law.
"So we need to monitor the situation and then, as agreed, to evaluate the situation in March," Novak said. "Currently prices are not reacting significantly to the situation in Venezuela."
The OPEC/non-OPEC joint ministerial monitoring committee, which includes both Saudi Arabia and Russia, is due to meet in mid-March to discuss the market situation and the progress of the latest production cut deal.
The US has recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president, and Monday imposed sanctions against Venezuela's state-owned oil company PDVSA, to divert oil revenues away from President Nicolas Maduro's regime to Guaido's fledgling government.
Russia has not supported Guaido and has said it will defend its extensive business interests in Venezuela, including oil assets and loans.
Novak declined to comment on how these sanctions may affect Russian oil companies.
"I can't comment on all those risks now," he said. "Firstly because there are no [comprehensive] explanations regarding those sanctions introduced by the US against PDVSA. And this is an issue that legal services are to study and make their conclusions before we can comment on this."
Novak said he has not any recent contact with Venezuelan representatives from the oil and gas sector.
Concerns are growing, however, that Russia, including its biggest oil producer Rosneft, could face major losses in the country. It is developing five upstream projects with PDVSA and is owed billions of US dollars under prepayment deals that are scheduled for full repayment by the end of 2019.
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