For more than half a century, Saudi Arabia’s oil minister could move markets with a few choice words about what OPEC may decide at its next meeting, generating millions if not billions of dollars of profit for insiders.Not anymore. While OPEC’s gatherings still influence prices, it’s not Saudi Arabia’s voice that matters most, but the voice of a non-member: Russia, specifically Vladimir Putin.Since engineering Russia’s pact with the Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries to curb supplies a year ago, Putin has emerged as the group’s most influential player. As one senior OPEC official put it on condition of anonymity, the Russian leader is now “calling all the shots.”
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