Russia announces cut in oil exports

MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia announced Wednesday that it would reduce oil exports by 150,000 barrels a day beginning Jan. 1, in response to OPEC's calls for production cuts to help stabilize petroleum prices.

The announcement followed an earlier decision to reduce oil production and exports by 50,000 barrels a day for the rest of the year, a cut criticized as too small to affect prices. The larger cut was likely to go a long away toward satisfying the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Stanislav Naumov, a spokesman for Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko, said no time limit had been set for the cut, which had been agreed on at a meeting between Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and the heads of Russian oil companies.

Russia, the world's second-largest oil producer, has a total production of 7 million barrels a day.

Global oil prices have plummeted nearly 30 percent in recent months, and OPEC implored Russia to join other nonmember nations such as Mexico and Norway in making larger cuts to help shore up prices.

OPEC, which produces approximately 40 percent of the world's oil, has cut production by 3.5 million barrels a day so far this year.

The 11-member cartel agreed Nov. 14 to further reduce output by 1.5 million barrels a day as of Jan. 1 on condition that non-OPEC members agree to cuts amounting to 500,000 barrels a day.

Norway already has agreed to reduce production by 100,000 to 200,000 barrels a day, while Mexico has promised to cut its production by 100,000 barrels a day.