During a joint press conference on Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters that Russia and the US could work together on oil market regulation to avoid oil price volatility.  Getty Images photo by Chris McGrath.

“Room for cooperation” on oil market regulation: Putin

On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia and the United States could work together on oil market regulation to avoid extreme swings in oil prices.

Putin made the comments at a joint press conference with US President Donald Trump following the Helsinki summit.

The two world leaders met for over two hours at a closed-door meeting in the Finnish capital city.  It is unknown if Putin and Trump discussed US oil sanctions against Russia, Trump’s tweets about OPEC artificially supporting oil prices or Russia increasing its oil production later in the year.

“I believe we as major oil and gas countries may work constructively to regulate international markets because we are interested neither in an extreme drop in prices – as our producers will suffer – nor extremely high prices,” because they will drag down the economies of the two countries, Putin said during the press conference.

“There is a room for cooperation,” he added.

Following the remarks at the Helsinki press conference, crude futures fell sharply.  It is unclear if traders were reacting to Putin’s comments, reports released over the weekend that the US is considering selling off some of its crude reserves or other factors.

By 12:25 p.m., EDT on Tuesday, oil prices were mixed with Brent crude rising 12 cents to $71.96 and US West Texas Intermediate falling 58 cents to $67.48.  On Monday, Brent reached three-month lows.

In the past, Trump tweeted out complaints about OPEC keeping oil prices high as the cartel carried out its supply cut agreement which effectively wiped out the world’s crude glut.

Oil prices tanked in 2014 when supply far outpaced demand.  In early 2017, OPEC and some non-cartel countries, including Russia, implemented its supply cut agreement where all participants agreed to cut their oil output by a combined 1.8 million barrels per day (b/d).

On June 23, OPEC and its pact partners, agreed to boost their combined production by 1 million b/d to compensate for falling Venezuelan and Libyan production.

President Putin said the two discussed Syria, Ukraine, North Korea and Iran.  Putin repeated Russia’s concerns about the US withdrawing for the Iran sanctions relief agreement.

During the press conference, Trump was asked about his comments last week that Germany was being held “captive” by Russia because of its reliance on Russia for natural gas.  Trump also commented on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline expansion and if US LNG imports were competing against Russian gas in Europe.

“I think that we will be competing when you talk about the pipeline,” Trump said. “We’ll be competing. As you know, the United States is now — or soon will be, but I think it actually is right now — the largest in the oil and gas world. So we’re going to be selling LNG, and we’ll have to be competing with the pipeline and I think will compete successfully, although there is a little advantage locationally.”