MOSCOW, June 27 (Reuters) – Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak may miss the G20 energy ministers meeting in China scheduled for June 28-30 where he was to have met new Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih for the first time, three sources familiar with the matter said.
The relationship between Novak and Falih — representing the biggest OPEC oil producer on one side and the biggest exporter outside the group — could determine whether there is any coordination between their strategies on oil production.
Falih was appointed in May to take over from Ali al-Naimi who had held the energy minister’s post since 1995.
This month Novak said that he planned to meet Falih at the meeting in China.
But Novak may now have to stay behind because of commitments in Russia, sources said. In particular, he plans to attend a coal congress in St Petersburg to address safety issues in the industry, according to one source.
All three sources said that Novak may still go to China for G20 at the last minute and said that if the meeting with Falih does not happen in China, it was still on the agenda for a future date.
“The meeting is confirmed and will happen. There are some overlaps, he needs to be in Russia for some important events,” one of the sources said.
A spokeswoman for the Russian Energy Ministry declined to comment. Industry sources told Reuters that Falih was still planning to attend G20 energy ministers meeting.
Novak has repeatedly said that contact and exchanging views between Russia and OPEC should be continued.
Russia and Saudi Arabia are the world’s top oil producers and exporters, rivalling each other in Asia, with competition recently extending to Europe as well.
In April, global oil producers failed to reach an agreement to keep oil production levels unchanged to help the oil market rebalance faster.
(Additional reporting by Olesya Astakhova; editing by Christian Lowe and Jason Neely)
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