January 2, 2013 6:26 pm

Russian oil output driven to fresh high

Rosneft and Gazprom helped push Russian crude oil production to a post-Soviet era high last year according to preliminary data released by the country’s energy ministry.

Average production increased by 0.1m barrels a day from 2011 levels to 10.4m barrels a day, boosted by the state-controlled companies’ output – putting Russia among the world’s largest crude producers, alongside Saudi Arabia.

Rosneft was responsible for almost half of the increase in production last year. The company ramped up activity at its Vankor oilfield in eastern Siberia, where it started production in 2009.

Gazprom also managed to increase its average daily production by 30,000 barrels last year, largely thanks to higher production in its Orenburg fields, near western Siberia.

But Lukoil, Russia’s second-largest oil company by production, with significant holdings in western Siberia, saw a year on year decline in production.

Some analysts have questioned whether new fields are being developed fast enough to allow for further increases in production.

Thane Gustafson, an expert on Russia’s oil industry at Georgetown University in the US, recently told a conference in Moscow that virtually all new Russian production has come from fields that were discovered during the Soviet period.

He said the first slip in Russian oil production was predicted in 2015, with declines setting in during the second half of the decade.

Export levels are already rising more slowly that current production, because of surging domestic consumption of oil.

Russian oil exports by pipeline increased by only 20,000 barrels a day on average compared to 2011 – less than a fifth of the rise in production.

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