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Russian Apr oil output falls again, exports rise


Reuters: UPDATE 1-Russian Apr oil output falls again, exports rise

Sun May 4, 2008 5:43am EDT

Adds oil production by firms, gas output)

MOSCOW, May 4 (Reuters) – Russian oil production fell for a fourth month in row in April, confirming pessimistic forecasts for the year, when it is expected to fall for the first time in a decade, while exports rose on the back of improved weather.

Energy Ministry data released on Sunday showed production stood at 9.72 million barrels per day, down from 9.76 million bpd in March and over 2 percent lower compared to the post-Soviet high of 9.93 million bpd in October last year.

In absolute figures, March production was over 6 million barrels – the size of six large tankers – down from October.

Since October, oil production in Russia has been varying between decline and stagnation, prompting many analysts to revise down their oil production forecasts for 2008. A fall in output this year would come after a decade during which production by the world’s second largest oil exporter soared by over a half from the post-Soviet low of 6 million bpd.

The companies blame mainly heavy taxation amid rising costs for the production decline.

Russian authorities still expect production to grow by around one percent this year after an increase of 2.3 percent in 2007 and much bigger spikes in previous years, including a record 11 percent in 2003.

The data showed that Russian production sharing projects, which are located mainly off the Pacific island of Sakhalin and were the key growth drivers in 2007, cut output further to 222,000 bpd in April from 228,000 bpd in March.

Major Siberian firms showed mixed results with the country’s leading producer Rosneft (ROSN.MM: QuoteProfileResearch) raising output to 2.29 million bpd from 2.28 million in March and No.3 firm TNK-BP TNBPI.RTS (BP.L: QuoteProfileResearch) also increasing production to 1.37 million from 1.36 million.

But the No.2 firm Lukoil (LKOH.MM: QuoteProfileResearch) cut output to 1.79 million from 1.80 million in the previous month, No.4 firm Surgut kept production flat at 1.23 million and No.5 firm Gazprom Neft (SIBN.MM: QuoteProfileResearch) cutting output further to 618,000 bpd from 627,000 bpd in the previous month.

Gazprom Neft was one of the worst performers year-on-year as its production was down by over 6 percent versus April 2007 alongside Surgut, which cut output by over 5 percent.

On the export front, supplies via the Transneft key pipeline system recovered for a second month in row from the unusually low February levels to reach 4.52 million bpd, up from 4.23 million in March and 3.99 million in February.

Such a high export figure was last seen in September last year, when oil firms rushed to evacuate more crude ahead of a spike in oil export duties.

Traders have said May could be another record month in terms of exports as Russian oil export duties will reach a new record of around $400 per tonne from June following a new rise in global oil prices.

Russia’s gas export monopoly Gazprom (GAZP.MM: QuoteProfile,Research) cut gas output to 48.03 billion cubic metres from 50.48 bcm in March, which was one day longer, as the country needed less gas because of warm weather.

To see Russian oil data click on <OILSTAT/RU> (Reporting by Dmitry Zhdannikov; Editing by Richard Hubbard)


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