4 Feb 2020 15:55

Novak: oil price declines due to coronavirus could be alarmist fear, situation should be better assessed for possible OPEC+ measures

VLADIKAVKAZ. Feb 4 (Interfax) - The decline in oil prices due to the coronavirus outbreak in China could be an alarmist fear, and the situation must be assessed carefully before making a decision on the need for possible additional measures by OPEC+ member states, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, a meeting of the OPEC+ Joint Technical Committee (JTC) will take place, which is to consider the OPEC+ report on the current situation and forecasts, the minister said. It is too early to talk about the need for additional oil production cuts prior to the conclusion of the analysis, Novak said.

"I am not ready to make specific proposals right now, because I'll say again that at the moment, it is important to assess the situation and assess the right forecasts. There is a lot of uncertainty, perhaps these are alarmist fears," he told reporters.

"We are in constant contact with our OPEC+ colleagues, we are monitoring the situation - how the situation with reduced economic activity reflects on consumption and demand for oil," Novak added.

The JTC's work will take place over two days, and based on it, it will be able to say whether there's a need to conduct the OPEC+ ministerial meeting ahead of schedule, he said. At present, the meeting is planned for March 5-6.

"This work will take place over two days, and afterwards, we'll have the opportunity for a discussion. If there is such a need, we are prepared to conduct the relevant meeting and have discussions at the level of ministers. We had a meeting planned in March, but we can conduct it earlier, if there is such a need," Novak said.

There must be a shared opinion on the possible dates of an additional meeting, he said. "I think it's premature to talk about this now, this should be a consensus decision, and then we will announce it," Novak said.