Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak Tests Positive For Coronavirus
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak has tested positive for the coronavirus, the country’s prime minister said Tuesday.
The announcement comes on the eve of a videoconference by the ministerial monitoring committee of Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies in which Novak was due to take part.
“Unfortunately, Alexander Valentinovich Novak has been taken ill with the coronavirus,” Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin told a government meeting in Blagoveshchensk, in Russia’s Far East, the Interfax news agency said.
He said Novak learned of the diagnosis after arriving in Blagoveshchensk where he was to take part in the meeting as well as the opening of a huge petrochemical project near the Chinese border.
“He arrived and he has left for Moscow. With all our hearts, we wish him a recovery,” said Mishustin, who himself was diagnosed with the virus in April but has since recovered.
The Energy Ministry said Tuesday Novak will join an OPEC+ ministers’ videoconference on Wednesday despite testing positive for the coronavirus.
The 23-nation group known as the OPEC+ is set to review adherence to their production pact on oil output cuts at Wednesday’s meeting against the backdrop of a slow recovery in demand.
Compliance with OPEC+ oil output cuts was 95-97% in July, according to OPEC+ sources and a draft report seen by Reuters on Monday.
Novak was appointed minister of energy by presidential executive order back in 2012. Prior to his role as energy minister, Novak served as Russia’s deputy minister of finance, the prime minister of the Krasnoyarsk territory and as the Norilsk first deputy mayor. Novak has also been a member of the Gazprom board of directors since 2015.
As of August 16, Russia has registered 922,853 confirmed cases of Covid-19, with 15,685 deaths, according to the latest information from the World Health Organization (WHO). Globally, there have been 21.2 million confirmed cases of the virus and 761,779 deaths, as of August 16, WHO data shows.
Bloomberg reported last week that Russian president Vladimir Putin had approved the world’s first Covid-19 vaccine. The speed at which the vaccine received regulatory approval has been met with criticism, however, Bloomberg noted.
OPEC’s Joint Technical Committee (JTC) convened on Monday for its 43rd meeting. During the meeting, the organization’s secretary general Mohammed Barkindo underscored the “devastating” impact of the pandemic and said the actions taken by OPEC and its partners have contributed to an improved balance in the oil market compared to the situation in April. Barkindo warned, however, that the group must remain vigilant in monitoring market conditions.
The JTC advises the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC), which is scheduled to hold its next meeting via webinar on Wednesday.