Reuters examines oil prices: with an OPEC meeting imminent, crude prices have stabilized, as analysts expect to see the group agree to maintain its ‘official output target stable around $70’. Russia is surpassing Saudi Arabia in oil exports for the first time in the wake of OPEC production cuts. ‘In no uncertain terms, Russia has been the biggest beneficiary of OPEC’s sacrifice’, says strategist Chris Weafer. Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi believes that the current crude prices – between $68 and $73 a barrel – are acceptable for producers and customers alike. Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko has met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in an attempt to pursue Russia’s aim of reviving Saddam Hussein era oil deals. President Medvedev says that Russia must refuse requests for Ukraine to prepay natural gas transit fees, (with Kiev prepaying more than $2.2 billion) and must ensure the transit country stick to the contract agreed. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has asked Turkmenistan, Central Asia’s biggest producer of natural gas, to join a ‘gas OPEC’. Lukoil and Total are holding talks on potential joint exploration in Colombia.