TOKYO Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Friday a decision on extending a global pact to cut oil production had not yet been taken, but would be discussed with OPEC on May 24.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other leading oil producers have pledged to curb output by 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd), with Russia's contribution of cuts amounting to 300,000 bpd to be gradually phased in.
The goal was to reduce bulging global inventories and lift oil prices. Despite a modest recovery in the market, oil stocks remain high and the focus is now on whether OPEC and non-OPEC producers will prolong the cuts into the second half of 2017.
OPEC's next policy-setting meeting is set for May 25, with a decision expected at that time on whether to extend the curbs.
Novak said information on the oil market's situation and forecasts were being digested in order to draw a conclusion.
"The OPEC Secretariat will send the information to all the countries that are taking part in the agreement and we will discuss the issue during a ministerial meeting on May 24," said Novak.
He was believed to be referring to a joint committee of ministers from OPEC and non-OPEC producers that monitors compliance with the accord.
"There are no firm decisions on that. Each country is looking into the matter by itself so it can make its proposals and evaluations," said Novak, who was on a visit to Tokyo.
He also said Russia's oil output cuts had reached 250,000 barrels per day (bpd) and would hit a targeted 300,000 bpd by the end of April.
Earlier on Friday, Novak said the oil market was improving with production cuts by OPEC and non-OPEC members, including Russia, trimming a surplus that had squeezed prices for years.
"The situation has gradually been improving since the beginning of March," Novak said. "The oil surplus has been reduced. The situation is getting more and more stable and there's less volatility on the market."
Novak said current oil prices reflected the market situation, with benchmark Brent around $53 a barrel.
Leading Gulf oil exporters Saudi Arabia and Kuwait signalled on Thursday that OPEC is seriously considering an output-cut extension. Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said a consensus was growing that the pact should be prolonged.
OPEC sources said an internal assessment was that without an extension, oil could slide to $30-40 a barrel.
(Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; writing by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Dale Hudson)