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Novak Says Current Oil Output Levels Comfortable for Both Russia and OPEC

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Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said in an interview with TASS agency published on Friday that producers and consumers were comfortable with current oil prices.

“To me, the current price range is comfortable for producers and consumers. The spike up to $86 (per barrel) was short-term, largely driven by the Iran factor. Now the prices have retreated, although uncertainty around Iran remains to some extent”, the minister was quoted as saying.

Ahead of a meeting between OPEC and non-OPEC nations in Vienna next week, Novak also told the state-owned news agency that the producers would reach an agreement on the deal’s future for the next year by the meeting.

He also said Russia planned to maintain average October oil output level until year-end and that the Russian oil companies agreed to change oil output levels in 2019 if needed.

Analysts say the upcoming OPEC meeting will be the biggest test of the Russia-Saudi Arabia oil partnership so far.

“As things stand, the Russian and Saudis are still far from being on the same page over the finer details of looming output restrictions,” Stephen Brennock, oil analyst at PVM Oil Associates, said in a research note published Friday.

It leaves the de facto OPEC leader and allied non-OPEC producer facing its “toughest test yet” to find a compromise, Brennock added.

International benchmark Brent crude was trading at $58.68 a barrel at around 12 p.m. London time (7 a.m ET), down around 1.4 percent, while West Texas Intermediate (WTI) stood at $50.52, more than 1.7 percent lower.

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Man Detained in Paris After Tearing Down Flag From French Parliament Building

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A man was detained by gendarmes in Paris after he climbed the wall of the National Assembly’s building and removed a tricolour flag, Le Parisien reports.

According to Le Parisien, the gendarmes of the Republican Guard spotted a man on CCTV as he was climbing the wall of the National Assembly’s building to remove a tricolour flag. When the thief climbed down, they apprehended him and took the flag.

According to the paper, the thief was a 23-year-old man who was drunk at the time of the incident, the newspaper reported. He was handed over to the police and placed in a drunk tank.

The man lives in the 15th arrondissement in the southwest of Paris and was known to the police as a repeat offender.

The National Assembly is the lower house of the French parliament. It is located at the Palais Bourbon in the city’s 7th arrondissement.

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‘Zero truth’: Trump says Iran’s Claim it Captured CIA Spies is ‘Totally False’

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The Report of Iran capturing CIA spies is totally false. Zero truth. Just more lies and propaganda (like their shot down drone) put out by a Religious Regime that is Badly Failing and has no idea what to do. Their Economy is dead, and will get much worse. Iran is a total mess!

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UK to Send Nuclear Sub, Commandos to the Gulf After Tanker Seizure by Iran

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Britain’s Royal Navy is beefing up its military presence in the Persian Gulf with a nuclear-powered submarine and maritime forces, UK media report. 

A 7,400-tonne Astute-class nuclear-powered submarine, equipped with cruise missiles and heavy torpedoes, will be assigned a solely defensive role, military sources told the Daily Express tabloid. It is expected to intercept communications between Iranian servicemen and report them back to naval headquarters in the UK.

“We are sending a boat – it may well already be heading for the region,” a Royal Navy insider was quoted as saying. “Its role is a covert intelligence posture, simply gathering information to support the planned escort convoys of tankers.”

According to a separate report in The Sun, the Navy will also dispatch marines from 42 Commando, M Company. The HMS Duncan, a type 45 air-defence destroyer, was dispatched to the Gulf earlier this month to assist Britain’s only warship operating there, the Type 23 HMS frigate Montrose, based in Bahrain.

The RFA Wave Knight supply tanker, currently stationed in Gibraltar, will transit to the region in August, while the HMS Kent frigate will be deployed there in September.

The Navy also has four mine hunters and a landing ship dock committed to the area. “We have the ability to send more ships but they will take weeks so the Marines are a perfect fit in the short term,” a military insider told The Sun.

“The men have been told they could be deployed on to commercial vessels. Tankers are also now likely to travel in convoy and shipping will be protected. But our main brief is not to escalate the situation — and provide a deterrent.”

UK defence officials are yet to commend on the reports, but they typically stay mum about such deployments. It comes as Theresa May is holding an emergency meeting on Monday, focused on ways to maintain security of shipping in the Persian Gulf.

The authorities have advised British ships to temporarily avoid the Strait of Hormuz, after Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps impounded two tankers on Friday. One of the vessels was released, while the other was taken to a port in southern Iran pending an investigation.

Tehran claimed that the tanker ignored the distress calls of an Iranian fishing boat and collided with it. At the same time, Tehran officials indicated that the seizure came as a tit-for-tat response following the detention of a tanker allegedly transporting Iranian oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions.

UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he had spoken to his Iranian counterpart to voice his “extreme disappointment”, while London may soon move to hit Iran with a series of sanctions.

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