Russian energy ministry briefs analysts on oil output -sources

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FILE PHOTO: St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF)

(Reuters) - Russia's Deputy Energy Minister Pavel Sorokin held a call this month with Western analysts about country's oil production, trying to convince them that Russia had reduced output as targeted, three sources with knowledge of the call told Reuters on Thursday.

Russia has classified or delayed key statistics, including on oil production, since the start of what the Kremlin describes as a special military operation in Ukraine last February.

Uncertainty over the credibility of data on Russian oil production, which accounts for about 10% of global output, has been among factors pressuring global oil prices in recent weeks.

Booming sea-borne exports of Russian oil and healthy refining volumes at home have prompted questions from the market over whether Russia was cutting its oil production.

"The call was about Russia reaching its target level of output in April," a source said about the rare call with analysts, probably the first since early 2022.

The Energy ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

Last week Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said Russia was abiding by its voluntary pledge to cut oil output by 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) from February until the end of the year.

Russia is part of the OPEC+ group of oil-producing countries that last month announced a combined reduction of more than 1 million bpd in a surprise decision that the United States, a major fuel consumer, described as unwise.

Russia was able to keep up oil production and exports thanks to its ability to ramp up sales of its energy products outside of Europe, its traditional supply market for oil and gas, following severe Western sanctions against Moscow over Ukraine.

Novak has said that Russian oil and gas condensate production is expected to fall to about 515 million tonnes (10.3 million bpd) this year from 535 million tonnes in 2022, broadly in line with a Reuters report last month.

(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by David Goodman)