Industry sources speculate that Russia is unlikely to make any decision on its second quarter crude exports, until the end of the first quarter and the visit of OPEC Secretary-General Ali Rodriguez in March.
Rodriguez and OPEC President Rilwanu Lukman plan to meet top Russian government officials on March 4 and 5.
OPEC would like Russia to extend the curb until the end of June, to cover the second quarter when global demand is traditionally at its weakest. "Potentially we are going to face our stiffest test in the second quarter," OPEC research director Adnan Shihab-Eldin told the agency. "That is why it is imperative that the cuts already in place are continued into this period, to ensure that a concrete floor remains firmly under prices ahead of the summer," he added.
In Moscow, Yusufov also said Russia wanted to shift from the export of crude to the shipment of more oil products by boosting output at refineries and producing higher quality refined products. "We need to move from the export of crude oil to the maximum export of oil products," he said. "The problem is quite sensitive from the point of view of oil companies' profits and those of the Russian budget, especially because European consumers demand higher quality oil products," Yusufov added.
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