Putin pivotal for oil and Syria

Russian President Putin, who met Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Monday and is due visit Tehran next week, is poised to play a pivotal role in developing a coherent international approach to ending the Syrian war and defusing a looming oil market war between Saudi Arabia and Iran in 2016.

This follows the call today by Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for an end to demands for Syria’s President Asad to step down.

“… it is simply unacceptable to put forward any pre-conditions for joining forces in the fight against terror,” Lavrov told reporters after meeting his Lebanese counterpart, Gebran Bassil, in Moscow. He said that there had been a change in the West’s position since the Paris atrocities and the Isis bombing of a Russian passenger plane over Egypt last month.

Putin met King Salman during the G-20 meeting in Antalya. They were reported to have discussed discussed Syria and the conflict in Yemen.

Putin is due to attend the Gas Exporting Countries Forum in Tehran on 23 November and is expected to meet Iran’s President Rouhani.

Iran supports President Asad while Saudi Arabia has called for him to step down. They are also preparing to battle for a share of world crude oil markets following the end of nuclear-related sanctions against Iran. These could be lifted by the end of this year.

Saudi Arabia has lifted crude oil production to 10.6 million barrels a day (b/d). Iran’s oil minister said yesterday that it aimed to double exports once sanctions are lifted. Analysts say this would inevitably lead to a sharp fall in oil prices, which are down by more than half since the middle of 2014.