Exclusive: How Putin, Khamenei and Saudi prince got OPEC deal done

Thu Dec 1, 2016 2:06pm EST
 
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By Rania El Gamal, Parisa Hafezi and Dmitry Zhdannikov

VIENNA (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin played a crucial role in helping OPEC rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia set aside differences to forge the cartel's first deal with non-OPEC Russia in 15 years.

Interventions ahead of Wednesday's OPEC meeting came at key moments from Putin, Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani, OPEC and non-OPEC sources said.

Putin’s role as intermediary between Riyadh and Tehran was pivotal, testament to the rising influence of Russia in the Middle East since its military intervention in the Syrian civil war just over a year ago.

It started when Putin met Saudi Prince Mohammed in September on the sidelines of a G20 gathering in China.

The two agreed to cooperate to help world oil markets clear a glut that had more than halved oil prices since 2014, pummeling Russian and Saudi government revenues. Oil prices are up 10 pct this week topping $53 a barrel.

The financial pain made a deal possible despite the huge political differences between Russia and Saudi over the civil war in Syria.

"Putin wants the deal. Full stop. Russian companies will have to cut production," said a Russian energy source briefed on the discussions.

In September, OPEC agreed in principle at a meeting in Algiers to reduce output for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis.   Continued...

 
Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during his annual state of the nation address at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, December 1, 2016. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov