* Russian non-state oil companies support cuts extension
* Oil prices under pressure as markets still awash with fuel
* OPEC favours cuts extension, counts on Russia - sources
By Vladimir Soldatkin and Oksana Kobzeva
MOSCOW, March 24 Russia's private oil producers
are ditching their scepticism and lining up behind an extension
of a global deal to cut output after previous oil price
increases compensated for lost income.
Oil prices have risen since November when the Organization
of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) reached its first
deal to lower output since 2008, with some non-OPEC producers,
including Russia, joining the move.
A decision on whether Russia backs an extension will
ultimately be taken in the Kremlin, and the private oil
companies have limited say. But their change of heart is a
tentative sign that oil price rises have diluted some of the
opposition to global production cuts.
As oil prices are still under pressure, OPEC sources told
Reuters this week that Russia and other non-members need to
remain part of the initiative to prolong the deal beyond June.
Russian state oil companies Rosneft and Gazprom
Neft along with private Lukoil account for
the bulk of Russia's cuts. Russia had cut output by 160,000 bpd
by mid-March out of the targeted 300,000 bpd, now expected by
the end of April.
Vagit Alekperov, chief executive of Russia's second-largest
oil producer Lukoil said last week it was "expedient"
to continue cuts, as the deal has already brought its first
Alekperov's comments represent a U-turn from last year when
he said there was no point in Russia doing any deal with OPEC.
Another Russian major Tatneft, which is controlled
by the Russian region of Tatarstan, said it stood ready for
"We are ready to cut production at the levels, which lead to
a financial result... but without harm to future output," the
company said in emailed comments to Reuters.
Mid-sized company Russneft said that the company
was ready to extend production cuts if it "serves Russian
interests." "We hope the oil prices rise will offset out losses
from the production cuts," Russneft said in emailed comments.
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak has said it was
premature to decide for now if the deal should be extended,
adding it would be clearer in April and May, closer to the
The energy ministry declined to comment. Kremlin spokesman
Dmitry Peskov did not reply to a Reuters request seeking a
Russian state oil companies, Rosneft and Gazprom
Neft, were initially reluctant to cut as both planned
to increase output. Both have complied with the cut following
the order from President Vladimir Putin.
(additional reporting by Olesya Astakhova; editing by Katya
Golubkova and Keith Weir)