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Russia says to work with producers to rein in oil

KUWAIT, Jan 6 (Reuters) - Russia, the world's second biggest oil exporter, said on Monday it would cooperate with other producers to rein in current high prices, Kuwait's official news agency KUNA reported.

Asked if Moscow would coordinate with OPEC to raise production, Russian Energy Minister Igor Yusufov was quoted by KUNA as saying Moscow "was committed to coordinating with oil producers to secure stability in oil markets."

Yusufov, on a visit to Kuwait, affirmed the need to return prices of more than $30 a barrel to "reasonable levels" to meet the interests of producing and consuming countries, KUNA said.

His remarks, similar to those made on Sunday after meeting Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi in Riyadh, made no mention of any concrete steps Moscow might take to help control prices.

In concert with OPEC, non-aligned producer Russia briefly cut exports early last year in a bid to shore up sagging oil prices.

Yusufov blamed the current price spike on a crippling five-week strike in Venezuela, which he estimates has wiped off 1-1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) from world markets and prompted some countries to overproduce.

Acting Kuwait Oil Minister Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahd al-Sabah admitted that some producers had begun to turn up the taps to help prevent a supply crunch.

"Kuwait is committed to its (OPEC) quota, but the turbulence which oil markets are experiencing currently may have led to a small increase above the agreed quota -- not only by Kuwait but several other countries -- to cover the gap in markets," KUNA quoted Sheikh Ahmad as saying.

The Russian minister -- due to visit Qatar, Iran and the UAE -- said he hoped the situation in Venezuela would return to normal very soon, adding that his country is exerting efforts to achieve stability in that country.

OPEC is meanwhile poised to raise supplies in the middle of the month in an effort to control soaring oil prices which are threatening to stunt world economic growth.

Kuwait on Monday added its support to a cartel increase via the group's price band mechanism which stipulates supplies be raised by 500,000 bpd if prices for a basket of OPEC crudes stay over $28 a barrel for 20 days.

The OPEC basket on Friday stood at $30.83, the 13th day it was above the group's $22-$28 range.

"Kuwait, along with its partners in OPEC, is monitoring the direction of oil prices and according to the agreed mechanism it is possible to increase output if prices remain above the agreed ceiling," said Sheikh Ahmad.

OPEC President Abdullah al-Attiyah said on Sunday the group could lift supplies by up to one million bpd and would decide on the precise volume before January 14.

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