(Adds quotes, ministry spokeswoman, context)
By Vladimir Soldatkin
MOSCOW, May 8 (Reuters) - Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak on Monday backed extending oil output curbs by leading producers, saying it would help speed up a return to a healthier market.
Novak did not mention for how long he thought curbs should be extended in comments sent by the Russian energy ministry. A ministry spokeswoman, however, said one option being discussed by Russia was extending the cuts beyond the end of the year.
Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said on Monday he was confident that OPEC and non-OPEC producers would extend cuts into the second half of the year and “possibly beyond”.
The Russian energy ministry spokeswoman said she could not confirm that Russia backed prolonging output cuts into 2018.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers including Russia pledged to cut output by 1.8 million barrels per day during the first half of this year to prop up the oil market.
“Russia expresses its full solidarity with the efforts of our partners aimed at rebalancing the global oil market and believes that joint efforts to date have been very effective,” Novak said in the comments sent by his ministry.
“We are discussing a number of scenarios and believe extension for a longer period will help speed up market rebalancing.”
Novak said he thought rising oil demand would make the output cuts more effective in coming months and that he saw compliance with the OPEC/non-OPEC output pact at 100 percent.
Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Writing by Alexander Winning; Editing by Dale Hudson