A gas flame is seen in the desert near the Khurais oilfield, Saudi Arabia. File Photo © Reuters / Ali Jarekji
Russian President Vladimir Putin has revealed plans to boost economic ties with Saudi Arabia by setting up a $1 billion oil plant there. He also reaffirmed Moscow’s commitment to the OPEC agenda of keeping the oil market steady.
“There is still a lot to be done, but we have set a good pace. Last year [trade turnover] was up 15 percent. In the first six months of 2019, growth was as high as 38 percent,” said Putin.
“We are considering some good joint projects. Our Direct Investment Fund and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia have jointly established a $10 billion platform. $2 billion has already been invested. Work is underway on other projects, and some promising and interesting projects have already been implemented,” the Russian president said in a joint interview with Al Arabiya Sky, News Arabia and RT Arabic ahead of his visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia later this month. He also noted that Russia is considering the possible construction of a petrochemical plant in the region, as well as a number of other ambitious projects.
More generally, Putin spoke about a “dramatic” improvement in Saudi-Russian relations over the past few years.
“We have been making good headway practically in all fields,” and Russia considers Saudi Arabia to be a “friendly nation,” he said.
He also described Russia’s cooperation with the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which, according to last year’s estimates, holds 79.4 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves, with Saudi Arabia its largest producer. Russia shares its OPEC+ partners’ intent to keep the oil market stable, Putin said.
“We need to respond to any attempt to destabilize the market. Russia will certainly continue working with Saudi Arabia and other partners and friends in the Arab world to counter any attempts to wreak havoc in the market,” he stated, alluding to the September drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities, as well as earlier attacks and seizures of oil tankers in the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.
“If anyone thinks that seizing tankers and attacking oil infrastructure can in any way affect cooperation between Russia and our Arab friends, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, that they can undermine or break down our cooperation with OPEC+, then they are profoundly wrong. On the contrary, we will forge ever closer ties because our main goal is to stabilize global energy markets,” Putin stressed. He added that the organization will stick to the agenda of keeping oil prices at a “sensible level” in the future.
“Technically, we need to cut global reserves to some sensible level, so that these reserves do not affect prices. We have made some good strides and whatever we have managed to achieve has served not only oil producers, but also consumers. Neither producers nor consumers want high prices, rather we all want stability in the global market,” the Russian president said.
Read the full interview here.
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