Exclusive OPEC officials tell EU unease over proposed Russian oil ban, sources say

The OPEC logo pictured ahead of an informal meeting between members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Algiers, Algeria September 28, 2016. REUTERS/Ramzi Boudina/File Photo

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LONDON, March 24 (Reuters) – OPEC officials believe a possible EU ban on oil from its Russian partner would hurt consumers and the group has raised concerns in Brussels, sources said. of OPEC.

Major OPEC members such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have tried to navigate a neutral course between the West and Moscow, while OPEC+, a group that includes Russia, has avoided the question of Ukraine during its political meetings.

The EU, which relies heavily on Russian crude, has already imposed tough sanctions on Russia, including freezing its central bank assets. The bloc discussed whether and how to impose sanctions on Russia’s energy industry. Read more

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OPEC officials, including Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo, met with EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson on March 16 to discuss “extraordinary times” in the energy market, Simson said on Twitter.

One of the OPEC sources said the group’s concerns had been clearly communicated to the EU. “They are very knowledgeable,” the source said, declining to be identified.

Asked about the March 16 meeting, an EU official said: “OPEC presented its analysis of the situation in the oil market and informed us of its plans in terms of oil production.”

“As we have always said, nothing is ruled out in terms of future sanctions,” the EU official said.

OPEC headquarters in Vienna did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Oil prices rose to their highest levels since 2008 due to supply problems stemming from events in Ukraine, pushing up fuel prices for consumers who were already facing higher inflation as economies recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Russia is an ally of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and co-chairs the OPEC+ producer group, which since 2017 has been cooperating on oil supply to support oil markets.

While the US and Britain have targeted Russian oil, it’s a choice that divides the EU, which depends on Russia for 40% of its gas.

EU foreign ministers disagreed on Monday on whether and how to impose sanctions on Russian energy.

Stopping ahead of a Russian oil ban would indicate EU members were “convinced by their energy realities, not their wishes”, the OPEC source said.

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Additional reporting by Kate Abnett and Ahmad Ghaddar; edited by Dmitry Zhdannikov and Edmund Blair

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