Monday, March 30, 2009

Russia is the world's No. 2 crude exporter.

MOSCOW -- To many in the West, Russia's oil wealth is an addiction that has warped its economy. Russian energy czar Igor Sechin considers that envious nonsense.
Russia's resources "are a God-given good that should be used effectively," he said in his first major interview with a foreign media outlet. "Somebody is always wanting to take them away."

Read excerpts from the interview with Mr. Sechin.

"It would be irresponsible for Russia to join OPEC because we can't directly regulate the activity of our companies," he said, as nearly all are privately owned.

Yet, he supports "coordinating actions" with the cartel because of the shared interest in lifting prices. He said Moscow isn't in a position to mandate lower production, but Russian oil companies will curb output this year as falling prices cut into their ability to produce.

He figured that if oil slides back under $40 a barrel, Russian output this year could fall twice the amount the government now forecasts, or about 300,000 barrels a day. Russia, he added, wants to keep oil prices between $60 and $100 a barrel.

To help ensure that, Moscow is considering building a reserve of crude to allow it to react to market shifts. In addition, Mr. Sechin said Russia has put off auctioning development rights for some big, new export-oriented fields.

At current prices, he said oil companies are starved for vital capital to invest in new projects. "If companies don't have access to stable financial resources for the long term, that could lead to a shortage and to a sharp increase in prices for oil and oil products," he said. "That might not alarm consumers very much now because demand is falling, but when the recovery begins...this situation could develop."

Mr. Sechin called for a gradual but major overhaul of the international oil trade, adding tight regulation and longer-term supply contracts, eliminating "economically unjustified intermediaries" and reducing speculation.

FD: Ever generation of oil producer re-invents the original Texas Rail Road Commission, which freely determined the production of oil in Texas and thus the price of oil, and the profit for Texas based oil companies.

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