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Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak attend a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, in St. Petersburg, Russia, on June 3, 2021.EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA/Reuters

Saudi Arabia and Russia, the world’s top two oil exporters, on Wednesday discussed the situation on the oil market and prices amid the escalating conflict between Israel and Hamas, President Vladimir Putin’s top oil official said.

Crude oil prices spiked in the wake of a massive incursion into Israel from Gaza launched by the Palestinian Islamist group on Oct. 7.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak greeted Saudi Arabia’s Minister for Energy Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman in Moscow on Wednesday ahead of the “Russian energy week” conference in Moscow, which Putin will address.

Novak said he and Prince Abdulaziz discussed the oil market and co-operation within the OPEC+ group of oil producers.

“Of course, (co-operation within OPEC+) was (considered) at our internal meeting, one of the most important topics that we discussed today,” Novak said, according to Interfax news agency.

“We are in constant contact and used this opportunity in our meeting to discuss the market situation,” Novak said.

It was not immediately clear what, if any, concrete conclusions were reached. Novak said earlier that the oil price would be discussed.

Saudi Arabia and Russia have co-ordinated supply cuts in recent years to support oil prices.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was difficult to overestimate Russia’s co-ordination with Saudi Arabia and other partners on global oil markets amid the escalating conflict in the Middle East.

He told reporters that the visit of Prince Abdulaziz to Moscow provided an opportunity to look into current affairs.

“Of course, the global oil markets are very sensitive to the events that are currently unfolding around the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and of course, in this case, our co-ordination with the Saudis and our other partners … is difficult to overestimate its importance,” Peskov said.

Russia and Saudi Arabia also held a meeting of their inter-governmental commission.

Novak said at the start of the meeting that Russia was ready to boost oil product supplies to Saudi Arabia. Gulf states, which have their own major refineries, usually re-export Russian fuel.

He also said that Russia was ready for co-operation with Saudi Arabia in nuclear energy, geological exploration and food supplies.

Putin is scheduled to address the forum later on Wednesday. Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani, who is on an official two-day visit to Moscow, and some OPEC representatives are also expected to attend the forum.

Saudi Arabia and Russia have agreed to continue with voluntary oil supply cuts of a combined 1.3 million barrels of oil per day, or more than 1 per cent of global demand, to the end of the year.

Saudi Arabia said on Tuesday it was working with regional and international partners to prevent the escalation of the situation in Gaza and neighbouring areas, and reaffirmed that it supports efforts to stabilize oil markets.

Israel produces very little crude oil, but markets are worried that the conflict could escalate and disrupt Middle East supplies, worsening an expected deficit for the rest of the year.

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