* Russia not OPEC member but regularly holds consultations
* Russia’s Novak thinks Saudi Arabia to stick to balanced policy
* Qatari minister sees market heading toward rebalancing (Releads with Russia comments, adds details, quotes, background)
By Vladimir Soldatkin and Olesya Astakhova
MOSCOW, June 3 (Reuters) - Russia, the world’s top oil producer, plans to continue its consultations with OPEC and may hold a meeting with the group this autumn, Energy Minister Alexander Novak told reporters.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, of which Russia is not a member, failed to agree on output targets on Thursday, at its first meeting since April when Saudi Arabia refused to sign up to an oil output freeze without Iran - which is trying to recover market share after the lifting of sanctions - ruining a wider global agreement.
“We will continue our relations with OPEC ... We have an energy dialogue format which we will continue. We will for sure do a related meeting this year,” Novak said, referring to consultations on the market situation between Moscow and OPEC.
Brent oil prices held at around $50 a barrel on Friday although OPEC did not agree on output targets, supported by Saudi Arabia’s pledge not to flood the market with more fuel.
Novak said Saudi Arabia had the capacity to increase output but he thought that Riyadh would stick to a “balanced” oil production policy.
Saudi Arabia was pumping at an average of 10.25 million barrels of oil per day (bpd) in May, slightly up from 10.15 million bpd in April, a Reuters survey showed. Russian output was slightly down to 10.83 million bpd in May.
Having been pessimistic over the timing of the market’s imbalance receding, energy ministers, including Novak, have started to note signs of it heading back towards rebalancing.
The International Energy Agency said in May that unplanned disruption to output in Canada, Nigeria and Libya could help run down a global overhang of unused crude this year, while demand will benefit from growing gasoline usage.
“It was a successful meeting, it was full harmony among members. We reviewed thoroughly market’s status of oil supply and demand. The worst was over,” Qatari Energy Minister Mohammed Al-Sada told reporters in Moscow, referring to the OPEC meeting.
“The market is heading towards rebalancing.”
Al-Sada said he saw “huge shrinkage in investments” in the oil industry because of the recent price weakness - down to as low as $27 per barrel in January - “which can lead to shortage down the road.”
“Investment is needed to come back so that we can sustain production and satisfy the market medium to long term,” he said.
On Thursday, OPEC decided unanimously to appoint Nigeria’s Mohammed Barkindo as its new secretary-general after years of friction over the issue.
Novak, who was meeting al-Sada on Friday in Moscow as a part of a regular inter-governmental commission, told reporters that he saw the appointment of a new secretary general as a key OPEC decision.
He reiterated that Russia did not expect any new actions from the cartel and said he kept his forecast of an average oil price for 2016 at between $40 and $50 per barrel. (Writing by Katya Golubkova; Editing by Adrian Croft and David Evans)