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Russia's cut in oil exports welcomed

RUSSIA announced yesterday that it is cutting oil exports - welcome news for OPEC oil ministers looking for ways to bolster prices by reducing supply without further hurting the global economy.

Russian Deputy Premier Igor Sechin spoke to oil ministers of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries before they decide how best to support prices without sending a new shock through economies of major consumer countries battling with the fallout of the financial meltdown.

Most members of the 12-nation organization have been clear in favoring reduced output in the days preceding yesterday's full meeting.

Still they were leaving open whether they want to lower output quotas or if they favor a solution less likely to hurt the struggling global economy by seeking to end overproduction by some nations above levels allotted to them.

Sechin also said that sending a permanent Russian observer to OPEC was under study. Russia first floated that idea late last year.

Any sign of closer cooperation between Russia and OPEC is closely watched because of the potential it has on influencing the amount of supply available and its price.

Russia is the world's second largest crude producer after OPEC powerhouse Saudi Arabia - and OPEC has called on the Russians to cooperate as it seeks to boost prices that fell to the low US$30s a barrel after highs close to US$150.


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