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OPEC ministers to gather for key meeting in Vienna

November 30, 2016, 7:52 UTC+3 VIENNA

The Russian delegation is expected to skip the talks

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VIENNA, November 30. /TASS/. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will convene in Vienna at ministerial level on Wednesday to try to reach a crucial oil output deal and stabilize prices that have halved since 2014.

During an informal meeting at the 15th International Energy Forum in Algeria on September 28, the OPEC member states agreed to limit oil production to 32.5-33.0 million barrels per day. The parties have since sought to approve specific limits for every country.

The final decision on the agreement is to be approved at the official meeting of OPEC in Vienna Wednesday. The organization expects more oil producing countries including Russia to join the agreement.

The roadmap and individual oil production levels for member states were to be drafted by a special expert committee by today’s meeting.

The committee held three meetings in the past two months. The latest expert committee meeting was held on November 28 and lasted for more than 10 hours, with UAE envoy saying after the talks that the roadmap was finally approved, including by its opponents Iran and Iraq.

Tehran has long argued it wants to raise production to 4-4.2 million barrels per day, at the level of production lost under Western sanctions. Baghdad has also been demanding higher output, saying it "bears a heavy burden" of fighting the militant group Islamic State (outlawed in Russia) and needs more money to counter it.

Initially, a group of non-OPEC members, including Russia, were to attend the November 28 meeting, but it was cancelled after Saudi Arabia refused to send its negotiating team. The Russian delegation also skipped the talks.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak, who will also skip Wednesday’s talks, said that "OPEC countries should reach internal consensus before non-member states can join the agreement."

According to Novak, the freeze of oil production for Russia is equivalent to a reduction of production by 200-300,000 barrels per day, as companies will lose the ability to increase production in accordance with their 2017 plans. According to the Energy Ministry, an average daily oil production in Russia stood at 11.2 mln barrels between November 1 and 23.

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