Russia’s push to increase oil production came independently, the country’s oil minister said Saturday during the OPEC summit in Vienna, dismissing the suggestion that public pressure from the U.S. played a role in its decision.
OPEC ministers announced a deal on Friday that will increase oil supplies from the producer group, which has been capping output in order to balance the market and boost prices for the last 18 months. But the lack of clear output targets left markets confused.
Ahead of the oil cartel's meeting this week, President Donald Trump used his Twitter account to prod OPEC into ramping up production, as fuel prices in the U.S. have soared ahead of the summer driving season. In many parts of the U.S., gas prices have steadily climbed to around $3 per gallon, a pain threshold that can eat into consumer spending.
When asked if tweets by the president urging OPEC to keep prices down factored into the country’s move, Alexander Novak told CNBC's Steve Sedgwick that "the US is just another consumer, like the rest of consumers, and when we make decisions we take into account the interests of the consumers, not just those of producers."
The minister added: “I would like to stress that our offer to increase production volumes in June was made well before the appearance of certain tweets. I’d like to note that Russia had proposed to ease the quotas back at the end of last year, and we began to discuss in detail in February this year."
The comments followed the news that OPEC and non-OPEC members, including Russia, have reached a compliance agreement to raise oil output by one million barrels per day (bpd) in order to balance supply and demand in the second half of 2018.