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Saudi Arabia, Russia agree to 'historic' oil market cooperation

Top oil producers Saudi Arabia and Russia made a joint statement at the G-20 summit in China on Monday aimed at stabilizing crude prices, media reports said.

Russia and Saudi Arabia recognize the need to contain excess volatility in the market, the statement said, according to Russian news agency Interfax.

The two countries will form a working group to monitor the market and draft recommendations to stabilize oil prices and ensure steady investment in the industry, Interfax said. The group will meet for the first time next month.

Crude oil futures rallied heavily in the build-up to the announcement and pared back slightly afterward. WTI futures for October remained over 3 percent higher on the day, however, at a little under $46 per barrel.

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At the summit, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said a production freeze would be one way to stabilize prices, according to Interfax.

Novak described Monday's announcement as an "historic moment" in relations between OPEC and non-OPEC members, according to Interfax. Saudi Arabia is de facto leader of the oil cartel, but Russia is not a member.

Several attempts to boost crude prices by freezing OPEC's output have fallen in the past, in particular because Saudi Arabia has been wedded to keeping output high to hold market share.

However, Saudi Arabia is not alone in scuppering deals, including in February, when Iran refused to join forces with Saudi Arabia, Russia, Qatar and Venezuela in freezing output. This time around, Iraq and Iran's cooperation will be key if a broader deal on oil production levels is sought.

WTI crude futures for October have rallied sharply this year, but remain far below the levels above $100 per barrel at which oil traded prior to the commodities slump that began in July 2014.

Alexei Druzhinin | TASS | Getty Images

OPEC will hold informal talks in Algeria this month and member countries are scheduled to officially meet in Vienna in November. Russia's Novak will meet with his Saudi counterpart, Khalid al-Falih, on both occasions, Interfax said.

Russia and Saudi Arabia have also agreed to collaborate to implement new technology in the energy and gas space, Interfax said on Monday.

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