(Adds comments from Iraq's oil minister, context)
By Liz Hampton and Ruthy Munoz
HOUSTON, March 6 It is too soon for the world's
top oil exporters to discuss extending a historic deal to curb
output beyond June, oil ministers from Iraq and Russia said on
Monday at the CERAWeek conference in Houston.
Members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting
Countries (OPEC) including Iraq and non-OPEC countries such as
Russia last year agreed to cut oil production by some 1.8
million barrels per day in a bid to buoy global oil prices.
"It's very premature to talk about any changes or to predict
anything," Iraqi oil minister Jabar Ali al-Luaibi said on the
sidelines of the industry gathering in the U.S. energy capital
Iraq would participate in cuts if OPEC extended the
agreement beyond June, he added. Iraq agreed to cut production
by 210,000 barrels per day (bpd) as its part of the bargain in
Russia led the non-OPEC producers that joined the deal,
which has lifted global oil prices more than 10 percent
since November. Moscow, too, thinks it is too soon to discuss
prolonging the cuts into the second half of the year.
"It's premature to talk about extending the agreement,"
Russian oil minister Alexander Novak told reporters.
Russia agreed to cut output by 300,000 bpd under the deal,
and would reach that target by the end of April, Novak said in
remarks translated from Russian. So far, Russia has cut about
half of that, he said.
Russia expects oil prices to stay at around $55 to $60 per
barrel in 2017, he said. Benchmark Brent crude settled
at $56.01 a barrel on Monday.
OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia said last week it would like to
see oil prices rise to $60 per barrel in 2017.
Russia has been the subject of economic sanctions for its
annexation of Crimea and conflict in Ukraine. In December,
former President Barack Obama authorized new sanctions against
Russia for intervening in the U.S. election.
It is unclear if those sanctions will remain in place under
President Donald Trump, an advocate for more cooperation between
the United States and Russia.
Novak said there was lots of "untapped potential" for Russia
and the United States to cooperate on energy matters.
(Reporting by Liz Hampton and Ruthy Munoz; Writing by Simon
Webb; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Leslie Adler)