Russian oil output rises to record as freeze in doubt

By JAKE RUDNITSKY on 4/3/2016

MOSCOW (Bloomberg) -- Russia’s oil output set a post-Soviet high in March as the success of a proposed crude production freeze between OPEC members and other major producers appeared to be in doubt.

Russian production of crude and condensate climbed 2.1% in March from a year earlier to 10.912 MMbpd, according to the Energy Ministry’s CDU-TEK unit. That narrowly beat the previous high of 10.910 MMbpd in January.

With most of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries members, Russia and some others outside the group scheduled to meet in Doha this month to discuss an accord on capping output, Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman signaled in an interview with Bloomberg that if any country raises output, the kingdom will also boost sales. Prices on Friday sank more than 4% after the comments. Iran previously said it plans to boost production after the lifting of sanctions following a deal to curb its nuclear program.

Saudi Arabia, Russia, Venezuela and Qatar in February first proposed an accord to cap oil output to reduce a worldwide surplus and boost prices. Brent prices in London have gained nearly 40% from the 12-year low reached in January.

Russian oil exports rose 5.1% from a year earlier to 5.59 MMbpd for March, according to the Energy Ministry data.

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