(Bloomberg) Saudi Arabia’s energy minister traveled to Russia in a show of support for the fellow OPEC+ member just as the US encourages the cartel to pump more oil and isolate Moscow.
Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman met Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak on Thursday at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, a flagship conference that almost all Western officials and business executives are avoiding this year following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Ties between the world’s two biggest energy exporters are “as good as the weather in Riyadh,” the prince said. OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo, speaking at different event in London, signaled that the group’s coalition with Moscow would endure.
Prince Abdulaziz’s trip comes a month before US President Joe Biden is set to visit Saudi Arabia in an effort to improve relations and coax an increase in oil production to ease record-high gasoline prices at home.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and it allies, led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, agreed earlier this month to accelerate the pace of crude output increases in July and August, a gesture that was welcomed by the Biden administration.
Still, OPEC+ has kept Russia, which has been struggling to maintain its production levels amid sanctions, at the heart of the alliance. It remains unclear whether Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members will respond to US requests to keep raising the output beyond August, a move that could alienate Moscow.
Russia “continues to be part” of the oil producers’ partnership and “continues to fulfill their obligations,” Barkindo said in London. “We want to have long-lasting, sustainable relations with these producing countries” in order to “strive for stability in the oil market.”
It’s still to early to talk about a potential extension of the OPEC+ deal, which expires at the end of the year, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said following his meeting with Prince Abdulaziz, as quoted by Interfax. The situation may become clearer by the end of the year, he said.
“We go step by step in OPEC, and don’t get ahead of ourselves,” said Barkindo, who concludes his six-year tenure as the group’s top diplomat next month.