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Russian Energy Minister: Cooperation with Riyadh to Stabilize World Oil Market | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak applauds during a session of the ministry’s board in Moscow, Russia, April 8, 2016. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov – RTSE50E

Moscow – Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak said his country was cooperating with Saudi Arabia to achieve of international oil market stability. He added that the ongoing dialogue between Moscow and Riyadh was witnessing concrete progress in this regard and expressed Russia’s readiness to adopt common measures to reach the aspired goals.

In an interview with Asharq al-Awsat newspaper, Novak said that Saudi-Russian bilateral cooperation was not only focused on building nuclear energy, but further covers wider areas such as nuclear medicine and radio-logic technology.

On efforts to promote the use of renewable energy, Novak said that several steps were achieved in this regard, including a current joint collaboration on the establishment of a legal and organizational framework that would set the bases of cooperation between the two countries.

The Russian energy minister welcomed Saudi Arabia’s initiative to promote the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, including the building of 16 nuclear reactors over the coming 25 years, which would be able to cover 20 percent of electricity needs.

On the other hand, Novak said that major challenges were facing the implementation of a national nuclear program, including the establishment of a proper infrastructure. He noted that in addition to building legal and regulatory framework, efforts should be directed towards training of professional staff, setting up financing mechanisms, determining the technological and economic characteristics, and choosing the appropriate party to implement the project.

He noted that an agreement on promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy was forged between Saudi Arabia and Russia in March 2016. The agreement, according to Novak, covers many areas, such as the establishment of nuclear reactors and desalination plants, providing services in nuclear fuel cycle, radioactive waste conditioning and reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel.

The joint agreement includes as well, the use of radioactive technology in industry, geology, medicine and agriculture.

In this regard, the Russian energy minister expressed his country’s readiness to put its expertise at the service of the Kingdom’s goals to promote the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Novak stressed his country’s interest in economic reforms currently implemented by the Kingdom, and which aim at diversifying Saudi economy away from the oil-based industry.

“I believe that Saudi Arabia’s experience in this regard would be very helpful to our country as well,” he said, adding that Russia has achieved major progress in relying on renewable energy.

On the prices of oil in the international market, Novak said that restoring balance to the international oil markets was difficult to reach, adding that it was unlikely to see the price of a barrel increase to $100 in the near future.

The Russian energy minister noted that OPEC’s shares from the world oil market represent 41 to 42 percent, which forces OPEC states to accommodate a cohesive policy. He added that the abundant amounts of oil in the Canadian market and the exploration of oil fields in Nigeria have both led to a surplus in production.

On the effects of the decrease of oil prices on the Russian economy, Novak said that the Russian economy proved to be highly flexible to foreign economic factors. He added that the appropriate measures taken by the Russian government to support the main economic sectors have helped maintain a high level of foreign monetary reserves, which reached $391.5 billion on the first of May 2016.

Regarding economic sanctions imposed on Russia by the European Union, Novak said that his country would always be open to cooperation with its international partners, despite the fact that no decisions have yet been taken to lift the sanctions on Moscow.