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Strong rouble limits effect from oil cut deal for Russia
April 13, 2017 / 2:01 PM / 8 months ago

Strong rouble limits effect from oil cut deal for Russia

* Rouble has risen by over 10 pct since November

* Oil price in rouble terms retreats to Nov levels

* Russia yet to decide on oil cut extension

By Oksana Kobzeva and Vladimir Soldatkin

MOSCOW, April 13 (Reuters) - A strong rouble is deflating Russian oil producers’ and government hopes for a revenue boost from a global deal to curb output that was designed to lift prices and reduce inventories.

The price of Russia’s flagship Urals oil blend has risen around 20 percent since OPEC and 11 other large producers, led by Russia, agreed late last year to cut production in the first half of this year.

In the same time though, the rouble has climbed by more than 10 percent versus the dollar, eroding gains for Russian oil. The Russian government’s budget revenues from oil exports also shrink when the currency strengthens.

The price of a barrel of Urals oil blend URL-NWE-E was just under 3,000 roubles per barrel on Thursday, the same level it was at the end of November. It fell to as low as 2,686 roubles on March 24.

“The rouble has let the (oil) companies down - the first-quarter results will be worse because of the strong rouble,” Alexander Kornilov of Moscow-based Aton brokerage said.

Russian mid-sized oil company Russneft, which produces around 140,000 barrels per day (bpd), said the oil price rise had not compensated its efforts to curtail output in rouble terms.

“In comparison to the fourth quarter, the price of a barrel of oil in roubles has been almost unchanged,” the company said in emailed comments to Reuters, adding that oil prices should be between 3,400 roubles and 3,600 roubles per barrel.

Gazprom Neft, one of Russia’s top three oil producers, said it was sticking to its plans for 2017 to extract 89.2 million tonnes of hydrocarbons (1.7 million bpd), up 3 percent year-on-year. It declined to comment on the rouble.

Rosneft and Lukoil declined to comment. Surgutneftegaz and Tatneft did not reply to Reuters requests.

The energy ministry said in emailed comments to Reuters that a price of $55 to $60 was “absolutely comfortable” for all oil producers. Benchmark Brent crude futures were around $56 a barrel on Thursday.

The ministry declined to comment on whether the strong rouble made the output cut deal less attractive for Russia.

OPEC is curbing its output by about 1.2 million bpd from Jan. 1 for six months. Russia, the world’s top oil producer, and the other non-OPEC producers agreed to cut half as much. Russia’s compliance with the cuts is around 83 percent.


After the pact was signed, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the federal budget could yield 1.750 trillion roubles ($31 billion) in additional revenue due higher oil prices and that companies could earn 750 billion roubles.

But if the rouble remains steady at current levels this year, the extra oil and gas revenue for government coffers would be 1 trillion roubles, according to Russian Finance Ministry calculations seen by Reuters. The finance ministry has estimated that the rouble is overvalued by 10 to 12 percent.

Energy minister Alexander Novak said on Wednesday he had received no complaints from oil companies so far and that he planned to meet producers this month.

OPEC meets on May 25 and is considering whether to extend the deal beyond June. Most members are leaning towards this if all producers, including non-OPEC ones, also agree, OPEC sources told Reuters last month.

Russia has not publicly said whether it supports extending the supply cut, but is wary about the revival of U.S. shale output due to the higher oil prices.

“If not for the OPEC deal... the situation could have been worse off even under a weak rouble,” Aton brokerage’s Kornilov said.

($1 = 56.9300 roubles)

Additional reporting by Darya Korsunskaya; Writing by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Katya Golubkova and Susan Thomas

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