Monday, May 2, 2011

Russia oil output close to post-Soviet high in April

* April oil output rises to 10.24 million bpd
* Gas production declines 0.5 pct to 1.91 bcm

By Vladimir Soldatkin MOSCOW,

Russia produced 10.24 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil in April, up 0.5 percent from 10.19 million bpd in March and short of a post-Soviet record of 10.26 million hit in October, Energy Ministry data showed on Monday. The Russian government is working on a new tax regime to
stimulate investments in new Arctic and east Siberian oil and
gas deposits as the country targets to keep its oil production
steady at around 10.1 million bpd during the next decade. Russia, which is outside the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), has remained the sole country to produce more than 10 million bpd of oil as firmer prices for Brent crude LCOc1, which last month reached a 32 month-high, high above $127 per barrel, stimulated output. Saudi Arabia increased its April output to 8.5 million bpd from 8.3 million bpd in March, as it is restricted by the production curbs established by OPEC to boost falling crude prices in December 2008. The kingdom has spare
capacity of around 3.5 million bpd. The data also showed on Monday that Russia exported around 5.59 million bpd of crude oil in April. Last week the authorities increased the gasoline export duty
by around 44 percent starting from May to fight a fuel shortage
at home as companies preferred to sell gasoline overseas due to
capped domestic prices. Gas production stood at 1.91 billion cubic metres (bcm) per day in April, down from 1.99 bcm in March, as output at Gazprom, the world's top gas producer, fell by 4.5 percent to
1.47 bcm on the back of seasonal decline in demand. Gazprom expects a substantial rise in its gas exports this year compared with 2010 due to the nuclear crisis in Japan and unrest in the Arab world.

(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Ed Lane)

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