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Monday, July 07, 2008

Russia is running out of oil

The Moscow Times reports:

National oil output edged up 0.3 percent in June from the previous month, but was down almost 1 percent in the first half of the year, casting further doubts over the government's goal to sustain growth this year.

Officials still hope production will slightly rise this year as the government seeks to avert the first annual decline in output since 1998.

But analysts say the country cannot sustain production growth, at least not until next year, when new fields in eastern Siberia will come on stream to compensate for falling production from depleted deposits in western Siberia.

Energy Ministry data showed Wednesday that the country's oil firms produced 9.77 million barrels per day, or almost 40 million tons in June, slightly up from 9.74 million bpd in May, and down by 0.8 percent from 9.85 million bpd in June 2007.

Production stood at 9.76 million bpd (242.4 million tons) in the first half, down 0.9 percent from 9.85 million bpd in the same period last year.

Oil production in Russia has fluctuated between decline and stagnation since the beginning of the year, prompting many analysts to revise down their oil production forecasts for 2008.

Russian authorities still expect production to grow by around 1 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.

Analysts expect production to slightly recover in the second half of the year, when a number of new fields will start operating, but they say it will not be enough to achieve a full-year growth.

"The second half will be more successful," said Konstantin Reznikov, from Dresdner Kleinwort. "But growth is unlikely this year. The maximum that oil companies can do is to achieve flat output [versus the previous year]."

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