#26 - JRL 2009-197 - JRL Home

Russia needs to cooperate with OPEC but national interests come first -minister

MOSCOW. Oct 26 (Interfax) - Russia is interested in cooperating
with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) but
its "national interests will remain [the] determining principle" in its
oil export policy, Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko said.

"I'm aware that some functionaries or representatives of OPEC have
come up with a kind of criticism about the Russian Federation to the
effect that we have become the number one in the world for the amount of
oil supplied to the world market," Shmatko told reporters.

He said that, after the latest OPEC meeting, where such criticism
was made, he had spoken by phone to OPEC Secretary General Abdallah
Salem el-Badri and the Qatar deputy prime minister. "We clarified all
the issues, and today we hold a unanimous opinion that we'll continue to
build up our cooperation," Shmatko said.

He said Russia had proposed signing a coordination memorandum with
OPEC and that the cartel was currently studying the proposal.

Regarding criticism of Russia's export policy, Shmatko said: "Our
national interests will remain our determining principle. In our view,
the situation in the oil market is not as bad as it was several months
ago, and we believe that the OPEC countries are also making fairly
positive assessments of the situation."

He expressed hope that Russia and OPEC would hold a joint seminar
in October. Russia had sent invitations to member countries of the

Shmatko also advocated more extensive bilateral relations between
Russia and OPEC member countries. A Russian-Saudi intergovernmental
commission is due to meet in Saudi Arabia in December.

"There have been no official misunderstandings between us," Shmatko
said in reference to his contacts with OPEC.

He also said the Gas Exporting Countries Forum is due to hold its
next meeting before the end of 2009. Trinidad and Tobago and Iran have
named their candidates for secretary general of the Forum and Russia
will do so "within 10 days or so," he said.

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