Novak Set to Attend OPEC+ Meeting

Novak Set to Attend OPEC+ Meeting
Novak's physical presence in Vienna presents challenging optics for the European Union.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak is set to attend the OPEC+ meeting in Vienna, according to people familiar with the situation, as the alliance prepares for a show of unity and the biggest production cut since 2020.

The meeting on Wednesday -- the first physical gathering since the pandemic forced the group online -- was officially called at the weekend as falling oil prices prompted the cartel to consider a substantial production cut. The alliance headed by Saudi Arabia and Russia is expected to make a point of the enduring partnership, even as the war in Ukraine leaves Moscow increasingly isolated.

The group is considering cutting oil output by more than 1 million barrels a day, according to delegates, with the global economic slowdown threatening to undermine demand, prices, and producer nations’ budgets.

Such a massive cut risks adding another shock to the global economy, which is already battling energy-driven inflation. It will also irk the US, after President Joe Biden visited Saudi Arabia earlier this year in search of a new oil deal -- and lower pump prices.

At the same time, Biden is trying to restrict the revenues that Moscow receives for oil by implementing a price cap as part of efforts to weaken Vladimir Putin’s war effort. An OPEC+ reduction would probably have the opposite effect.

Novak’s physical presence in Vienna also presents challenging optics for the European Union: the US has sanctioned him, though the EU has not followed suit. Austria’s government has declined to comment on his attendance, noting only that he has not been sanctioned by the bloc.

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