(Adds finance minister’s comment, detail)
MOSCOW, Jan 13 (Reuters) - The recovery in oil prices this year may help Russia’s finance ministry avoid spending all of its Reserve Fund in 2017, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on Friday.
Russia drew up its 2017 budget using an assumed average crude oil price of $40 per barrel for the year, but prices for its biggest export are currently well above that. Brent crude futures, the international benchmark, were trading at $55.81 on Friday morning.
“Will we be able to preserve the Reserve Fund if oil prices stay at $50 per barrel? We will,” Siluanov told reporters on the sidelines of an economic forum.
If oil prices average $50 per barrel this year Russia will bring in around 1 trillion roubles in extra revenue, Siluanov said.
The next spending from the Reserve Fund is scheduled for March or April, Siluanov said.
Economy minister Maxim Oreshkin also said on Friday that higher than expected oil prices may help avoid emptying the country’s rainy-day fund.
“We have a very good chance to substantially cut utilisation of the Reserve Fund,” Oreshkin said.
Russia’s Reserve Fund fell to $16.03 billion at the start of 2017 from $50 billion in early 2016 as the finance ministry used the money to plug holes in the country’s commodity-dependent budget.
Previously, the finance ministry had said the Reserve Fund, accumulated over years of high oil prices, was set to be fully spent this year as Russia aims to lower its budget deficit amid an economic crisis. (Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh; Editing by Alexander Winning and Hugh Lawson)