During the recent trip of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Saudi Arabia, issues of settling the Gulf crisis with Qatar and enlisting Saudi support to form a united Syrian opposition dominated the agenda of Russia’s top diplomat’s meetings with Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud and Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir. However, there was one issue discussed at the talks that did not receive much media attention, yet whose significance for Russia as an oil-producing nation is hard to underestimate — oil.
In August, The Wall Street Journal reported on the readiness of Russia and Saudi Arabia to push for the extension of the so-called "OPEC plus" agreement beyond March 2018. This treaty involves OPEC and non-OPEC members that, in 2016, agreed to decrease their oil production in order to encourage the growth of oil prices in the international market. However, at least for the Kremlin, the proclaimed intention to support the continuation of the deal implementation beyond the initially set deadline should not be considered as the final decision of the Russian leadership. In July, the participants of the ministerial meeting of members of OPEC and non-OPEC nations in St. Petersburg touched upon the issue of the deal’s extension. Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak avoided answering direct questions on whether the agreement would be extended beyond March 2018. And there are certain reasons for this.