Rhetoric and Reality at OPEC

Yesterday we blogged that Russia had a number of reasons to stay outside the sway of OPEC, not least because they wouldn’t want to risk their hard-earned international standing in groups such as the G8 and the succession effort to the WTO, but rather because this government in particular is very sensitive about committing to legal or political interdependence with other groups (the Kremlin has ignored the European Court on Human Rights for many years now, and is not likely to allow a Saudi oil minister to call in their production quotas).

Today, the gap between Russia’s rhetoric and reality in participating in the oil cartel became clearer:

Russia proved only a half-hearted helper to OPEC at a key meeting Wednesday aimed at boosting oil prices, and distanced itself from talk of a closer union with the oil producers’ club. (…)

Russian Deputy Premier Igor Sechin said his country’s oil companies could slash output next year to help bolster tumbling crude prices, but stopped short of solid commitments beyond cuts the struggling producers have already made.

Neither OPEC nor Russia announced any decisions Wednesday on closer ties between the two, despite recent talk from Russian officials about possible cooperation.

Sechin said Russia had proposed “permanent observer status” but said the group still has to determine what that means.

Sechin did not rule out full membership eventually, but said, “We are not rushing.”