Russia pumps a record 534 million tonnes of crude oil in 2015
Moscow - AFP
Russia pumped a record 534 million tonnes of crude oil in 2015 even as it reeled from a fall in oil prices caused by a supply glut, energy ministry data showed Saturday.
The country's oil and gas condensate production last year increased 1.4 percent year-on-year, with output reaching 10.73 million barrels per day, a post-Soviet record, according to data cited by Interfax news agency.
The slide in oil prices and Western sanctions over Moscow's role in the Ukraine crisis have pummelled the oil-dependent Russian economy in recent months.
The ruble lost around half of its value in 2014 but recovered slightly as energy prices stabilised last year.
But the recent renewed slump in oil prices -- with Brent crude falling to an 11-year low last month -- casts a shadow on the prospect of economic recovery.
"All states, including OPEC countries, have concentrated on increasing their output and turning out as much oil as possible not to lose their market niches, not taking note that they are driving prices down," energy consultant Mikhail Krutikhin said Saturday on Russian radio. "It appears that Russia is also following this path."
Russia's Central Bank predicted that if oil prices remain at their current level, GDP could shrink 2 percent in 2016.
President Vladimir Putin assured at his annual press conference earlier last month that the country was prepared for any economic situation, despite the volatility in oil prices.
Russia's 2016 budget had been calculated on the basis of an oil price of $50 per barrel, a figure Putin said was an "optimistic" assessment of the situation, with the price now hovering around $37.