Friday, April 29, 2011

Russia to suspend gasoline exports

Source: Press TV

The Russian Energy Ministry has halted the exports of refined petroleum products for May, 2011, since the country has run out of fuel in some regions.

Since Prime Minister Vladimir Putin suggested that pump prices be restrained in February, the oil situation in Russia has entered a period of crisis, and fuel companies have sought higher prices in other countries, The Moscow Times reports.

"I think that in May we must satisfy our own demand with the help of export cutbacks. As of today we have made an agreement that oil companies will deliver all volumes [of gasoline] to the domestic market," Deputy Energy Minister Sergei Kudryashov said at an emergency meeting with oil companies.

The amount of Russian petrol exported by rail in the first three months of this year rose to be 40 per cent higher than it was in the same period last year, which, in turn, caused the fuel stations in some parts of the country, including St Petersburg, to start running dry.

Officials have reported scenes of "panic" at filling stations in the Tomsk, Belgorod and Voronezh regions in western Russia, which have been hardest hit by gasoline shortage.

Russia is quite well-known for its exports of crude oil, but in terms of refined oil, the country lacks fame.

Russia exported only about three million tons of refined oil products in 2010 -- a fraction of total oil and gas exports, which are mostly made up of unrefined products.

The Energy Ministry said in a statement Thursday that supplies had been restored in the Altai region, but shortages have also been felt in Lipetsk, Kemerovo and Tula, where supplies of high octane gasoline are down to three to five days, the ministry said.

Other affected regions include Novosibirsk and Sakhalin. It has also been reported that some fuel blends had begun to run out in Smolensk on Thursday.

Oil companies have blamed the shortages on government support for car sales, which resulted in a boom of 1.91 million units sold in 2010, up 30 per cent on 2009, and a simultaneous policy of suppressing gasoline retail prices.

Rosneft and LUKoil -- Russia's two largest oil producers -- plan to set up corporate structures for Arctic transit and offshore exploration projects by August 1 as the companies seek to maintain output.

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