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Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak told reporters on Tuesday that oil prices would become more stable in the first half of 2019.“I think that during the first half, due to joint efforts, which were confirmed by the OPEC and non-OPEC countries this December, the situation will be more stable, more balanced,” Novak said. Novak also said there were no proposals for an extraordinary meeting with OPEC, and he attributed the fall in oil prices to macroeconomic factors. “Those are the fundamental factors: the decrease of demand in winter and, of course, the macro economy as we’ve been witnessing a decline in global economic activity at the end of the year and a fall on the stock market,” he said.

The head of Russian oil company Rosneft, Igor Sechin, said on Wednesday that current low oil prices were mostly linked to fresh interest rate hike announced by the U.S. Federal Reserve last week. Sechin also told reporters ahead of  a meeting between President Vladimir Putin and leading Russian businessmen that he saw oil prices at $50-53 next year “under a conservative scenario”.

Iran’s oil minister, Bijan Zanganeh, said on Wednesday that private exporters had “no problems” selling Iranian oil, which were bought on Iran’s energy bourse. “Those who bought oil on the bourse have been able to export and there have been no problems in this regard,” he told journalists. Zanganeh said a state economic body had approved the sale of up to 3 million barrels of oil in  a third round of sales to private exporters. “ A buyer can chose to pay with hard currency or rials for the crude oil on the bourse,” he said.

Iraq’s oil minister Thamer Ghadhban told journalists at a news conference on Wednesday that exports from Iraq’s northern Kirkuk oilfields to the Turkish port of Ceyhan is expected to remain at between 80-90,000 bpd as most of the crude produced is being diverted to refineries in the north. Ghadhban sad Iraq is in the final stages of talks with Exxon and CNPC over a mega energy project in the south and expected to sign the agreements. The deal with the two companies will help Iraq to expand the crude loading capacity from its oil export terminals to 6.5 mil bpd. At the same news conference, the head of Iraq’s North Oil Company, Farid al-Jadir said the Kirkuk oilfields is currently producing around 370,000 bpd of crude.  Jadir said the company is currently working with BP to re-evaluate Kirkuk production capacity and how to increase it.


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