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Business

Oil prices fall despite Russian freeze call

Russia confirms it will back OPEC's call to cut oil output - and the two sides will meet in two weeks to work out the details. But analysts are unconvinced - and oil prices have continued to slide.

Russia has signaled its willingness to work with OPEC to reduce the oil supply and drive up prices.

Qatar's energy minister said Russia and other major oil-producing non-members would be invited to an OPEC technical meeting at the end of the month. This came as Russian President Vladimir Putin said he saw no obstacles to a global agreement on an oil output freeze.

"We agreed to have a technical meeting of OPEC. An invitation is going to be sent to some key non-OPEC countries," Mohammed Saleh al-Sada said after talks between several of the cartel's energy ministers and their Russian counterpart on the sidelines of the 23rd World Energy Congress in Istanbul.

On Tuesday, OPEC Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo praised Moscow's closer cooperation with OPEC, which last month at a meeting in Algiers agreed its first production cut in eight years.

Market doubts

That decision caused oil prices to rebound. They reached a year-long peak on Monday, the second day of the congress, when Putin said Moscow could cut oil output in lockstep with OPEC.

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But they fell over the subsequent two days, dropping more than 1 percent on Wednesday to dip below the $50-per-barrel mark as OPEC reported its September oil output was its highest in eight years.

Energy stocks also tumbled as investors doubted the cartel's efforts to strike a production deal with Russia and others would be enough to cut supplies in view of the Algiers agreement's inability to prevent the current glut.

Russian oil giant Rosneft already poured cold water on the idea of an OPEC oil cut Tuesday.

The energy ministers of most OPEC members attended the talks at an Istanbul hotel. But Iran and Iraq were absent, and the oil minister of the group's biggest producer, Saudi Arabia, left early.

sgb/hg (AFP, Reuters)

 

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