Oil holds steady as Russia reaffirms commitment to output cuts

Canada

TOKYO (Reuters) – Oil prices were steady on Monday, holding on to strong gains last week, after Russia affirmed its commitment to a deal with OPEC producers to keep production in check and support prices.

FILE PHOTO: An oil pump is seen just after sunset outside Saint-Fiacre, near Paris, France September 17, 2019. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

Brent crude was down 1 cent at $62.01 a barrel by 0055 GMT, having logged a weekly gain of more than 4% last week, its best weekly gain since Sept. 20.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down 4 cents at $56.62 a barrel, having risen more than 5% last week, also the biggest weekly increase since Sept. 20.

Russia’s energy ministry said on Friday it is continuing close cooperation with Saudi Arabia and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC oil producers to enhance market stability and predictability.

The statement came a day after Igor Sechin, CEO of Russian oil producer, Rosneft, said the September attacks on Saudi oil assets created doubts over its reliability as a supplier. The attacks temporarily shut down around half of the kingdom’s oil output.

“(Russian) oil companies have wanted to get busy stealing oil market share from the Saudis and others for a few years now but … Moscow has them in a bit of a box and is driving the bus,” said Greg McKenna, strategist at McKenna Macro.

OPEC+, an alliance of OPEC members and other major producers including Russia, has since January implemented a deal to cut output by 1.2 million bpd to support the market.

The pact runs to March 2020 and the producers meet to review policy on Dec. 5-6.

Prices were also supported by a statement from the United States and China that they are close to finalizing some parts of a trade agreement after high level discussions.

Elsewhere, a suggestion by U.S. President Donald Trump that Exxon Mobil or another U.S. oil company could operate Syrian oil fields drew rebukes from legal and energy experts.

Reporting by Aaron Sheldrick; editing by Richard Pullin

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