By Vladimir Soldatkin
MOSCOW - Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Thursday that the OPEC+ group of oil producers is expected to start easing oil output cuts from August as previously agreed.
He also said the global oil market might achieve a balance between supply and demand in July and could even face a shortage of crude, while oil consumption may not recover to pre-crisis levels before the end of 2021.
OPEC+, including Russia, agreed to reduce their combined oil output by around 9.7 million barrels per day, or some 10% of global consumption, to tackle the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
Record cuts were meant to last until the end of June but have been extended into July.
Key OPEC+ ministers will meet in mid-July at a panel, known as the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC), to recommend the next level of cuts.
Novak told also told the Valdai discussion forum, an economic conference which was conducted online on Thursday, that no decision has been made yet about the future of the deal.
"We will have a partial resumption of the unprecedented cuts starting from Aug. 1," he said.
OPEC+ sources told Reuters this week that no discussions have yet taken place about extending the record cuts into August, meaning they are most likely to be eased to 7.7 million bpd until December.
"We will see how the situation develops, what was the technical data and statistics in June. So, the technical committee under the aegis of OPEC will analyse compliance, the market situation and the forecast," Novak said.
He added that no decisions had been made on any potential changes to the deal between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other producers.
Novak also said investments in the global energy industry would fall by a third this year, adding that a resurgence in coronavirus cases could hurt demand.
On Thursday, the energy ministry revealed that Russian oil output fell to 9.32 million barrels per day (bpd) in June from 9.39 million bpd in May, near its target under its deal with OPEC+, according to Interfax news agency.
(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; writing by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; editing by Jason Neely)