14 Sep 2010 15:23

Russia might have to curb oil production growth

MOSCOW. Sept 14 (Interfax) - Russia, which has just indicated that oil production will grow again in 2010, might have to curb that growth in time, the head of Opec said.

"If current rates of production are sustained then Moscow might have to slow production down a little," Abdalla al-Badri, the organization's secretary general, said in a Moscow - Vienna video link in the format of a press conference.

Opec, which is marking its 50th anniversary, does not see any problems from Russia yet, though, al-Badri said.

Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko forecasts Russia will produce more than 500 million tonnes of oil this year. Oil production grew 1.2% to 494 million tonnes in 2009.

Al-Badri also said Opec would be looking closely at the state of the market before deciding on production quotas for its 12 members, who do not include Russia. He said exports were adapting to market changes, and that quotas would be raised if demand is seen to be growing, but lowered if it is seen to be falling.

The cartel, which next meets in Vienna on October 14, last lowered production quotas at the end of 2008, to 24.845 million barrels per day.

Opec members Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Venezuela, United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Nigeria, Ecuador, Angola, Libya and Qatar produce 40% of the world's oil.

Al-Badri said it could be five or six years before Iraq gets an Opec quota.

He said Iraq was a key Opec member and that he was sure it would overcome all of its problems before long, but not for another five or six years.

He said reports that Iraq was planning to raise oil exports to 11 million bpd could have been exaggerated because it lacks the necessary infrastructure and technological capability. Iraq continued to export 1.82 million bpd in July.

Al-Badri said he was not disputing Iraq's ability to achieve 11 million bpd, but that it would be a "very difficult task."

"Sooner or later production will become established and Opec members will help Iraq with this," al-Badri said.