Russia flirts with OPEC on production cuts

MOSCOW (AP) -- OPEC ministers are gathering in Algeria to discuss a big production cut, but attention is also focused on the question of what Russia will do.

Unprecedented price declines have severely strained the economies of oil producing nations, including Russia's.

Previous OPEC cuts have had little effect and the group is lobbying Russia to help take more crude off the market.

Russia has robustly defended its energy independence, in part because it is much more difficult for it to make voluntary production cuts.

Russia's oil producers operate in harsh climactic conditions that make it difficult and costly to shut down production temporarily.

And unlike OPEC member nations, Russia's oil industry is a mixture of state-owned and private companies -- many with shareholders that do not answer to the Kremlin.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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