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Russia Won't Attend OPEC Meeting; Now Shuns Output Freeze

Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak said Russia's plan for a freeze on global oil output is no longer "relevant," with oil prices near $50.

Russia won't attend a meeting of the OPEC oil cartel this week and no longer is seeking a freeze in global output because prices have risen close to $50 a barrel without one.

That's what Russian Energy Minister Alexandr Novak and his deputies told reporters in Moscow in the run-up to the June 2 OPEC summit in Vienna.

Russia only a few weeks ago had been pushing hard for agreement with OPEC on an output freeze to prevent a further collapse in oil prices.

But since January, when premium crude prices plunged to a low of under $30, prices have shot up without any action by major producers, apparently mostly in response to unexpected supply shortfalls caused by unrest in Nigeria and wildfires in Canada.

"Today, since we are seeing that oil prices have bounced back, and bounced back quite high in comparison with the start of the year, this freeze issue has so far lost its relevance," Novak said, adding that he will wait and see what happens with prices.

Deputy Energy Minister Anatoly Yanovsky said Russia isn't even sending technicians to the OPEC summit.

"No one invited us," he said.

Based on reporting by Interfax and TASS