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Russian oil output hits post-Soviet high

Current production rate helps clinch world’s biggest oil producer title

Gulf News

Moscow: Russia said on Wednesday that its 2012 oil output hit a post-Soviet record high level while natural gas production declined amid stalling European sales. The energy ministry’s reporting unit said oil and gas condensate production grew by 1.3 per cent last year to reach 518.0 million tonnes (10.4 million barrels per day).

Russia had established its previous post-Soviet high in 2011 when output stood at 10.28 million barrels per day. Its current rate outpaces that of Saudi Arabia and clinches for Russia the title of the world’s biggest oil producer. But Russia lacks the quick ability of Saudi Arabia to boost output in case of a global economic rebound or more serious turmoil in the Middle East.

The state-owned oil firm Rosneft accounted for 22.8 per cent of Russia’s oil market — its share this year expected to reach more than 40 per cent following its October acquisition of the Anglo-Russian venture TNK-BP.

European sales decline

But Russia’s natural gas production fell by 2.3 per cent to 655.0 billion cubic metres (23.1 trillion cubic feet) as its European sales shrivelled up.

Production of the state natural gas giant Gazprom was reported at 478.8 billion cubic metres — well off its 2011 figure of 513.1 billion cubic metres.

The drop reflects the reality that almost all of Gazprom’s foreign sales are focused on European and post-Soviet countries which are now experiencing some of the slowest growth rates in the world.

Gazprom has also been slow to shift its focus to liquefied natural gas (LNG) production that could help it reach the growing markets of Asia and Latin America.

The European Union — importing about 30 per cent of its gas from Russia — has made a priority of diversifying suppliers in a bid to ease its political dependence on Moscow.