The future is dark for the Russian oil industry


However, in the long term, the future of Russian industry, which finances a large part of the state budget, has become bleak. China, for example, is a hard bargainer, paying a fraction of the price for Russian natural gas that customers in wealthy European countries like Germany and Italy are now paying.

And output from the vast West Siberian oil fields and other legacy operations that have sustained Russia for decades as the world’s top oil producer is in decline.

According to a recent study by research firm Energy Aspects, new fields being developed by Russia around the Arctic are “characterized by their harsh operating conditions and higher costs.”

In the past, Western companies have taken on difficult projects like offshore drilling and liquefied natural gas (LNG) development, while leaving the easier ventures to Russian competitors.

It is now unclear where the capital and know-how for these projects will come from. The most prominent of these developments, Vostok, which would spread across a vast northern region, “could be disrupted as US and EU sanctions put increasing pressure on Russian industry,” the report said.

On March 2, Trafigura, a Singapore-based trading company that finances part of Vostok, which is run by Rosneft, the state-controlled oil company, said it was “assessing options” on its 10 percent stake worth €1.5 billion in Vostok Oil, a vehicle for some of these developments.

Vostok, a cluster of North Sea-sized projects, may be Russia’s hope for years to come, but Ms Mitrova and other specialists say Russia’s industry could likely continue for some time even after the big companies have been sold or otherwise divested their investments.


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