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Norway wants oil talks with Russia

Norway's Oil and Energy Minister Einar Steensnæs said on Tuesday that he was seeking talks with Moscow about ways to bolster sagging oil markets and expressed hopes that Russia would announce big cuts for 2002. Einar Steensnæs also said that none of Norway's NATO partners had criticized Oslo for announcing plans last week to curb output by 100,000-200,000 barrels per day in a move that could push up prices and put more pressure on the US economy after the September 11 attacks. He told Reuters that he sent a letter to his Russian counterpart last week in which he said he "asked if possible to meet my Russian colleague, via for example a telephone conference." He said he had not yet received a reply. He welcomed Russia's decision to cut 50,000 bpd from production in the fourth quarter to help OPEC and other producers bolster prices but added: "I hope that Russia will come up with a considerably higher amount" in 2002. Steensnæs also said that he believed it was unrealistic to think that OPEC and non-OPEC producers like Norway could raise prices back to an OPEC target price of $22-28 a barrel in the short term.