News / Europe

Falling Oil Prices Prompt Russian Economic Fears

Henry Ridgwell
LONDON - Oil prices have shown a steady fall in the last few months, prompting fears that the Russian economy, which relies heavily on energy exports, could suffer.  Meanwhile, new sources of oil are coming on line and helping to drive down the price at the pump.

Khanty-Mansiysk in Siberia - home to around 70 percent of Russia’s developed oil fields and the source of much of the country’s wealth.

Russia produces more than 10 million barrels of oil per day - making it a major energy player.

Stephen Tindale, an energy economist at the Center for European Reform, said, “Almost half of the Russian government’s revenue comes from various taxes on oil and gas exports.”

Tindale says that leaves the Russian economy highly vulnerable to a fall in oil prices. “It would mean their budget was well out of balance and so would be very serious, short-term, for Putin and the Russian government," he said.

In recent weeks, oil prices have begun falling - from around $125 per barrel in March to around $100 by June.

For an explanation we have to look back to why prices were high at the beginning of the year, says Paul Stevens at Chatham House, an independent policy institute in London. “Oil demand was beginning to pick up again, supply was being constrained, we had lost Syria, we had lost Yemen, we had lost South Sudan, Libya was still off the market to a certain extent," he said.

Stevens says demand is now falling, thanks to fears about the world economy - and that could be bad news for Russian exporters.

In addition, Iraq has seen the opening of new oil fields like this one in West Qurna in April. which was developed in partnership with Russian giant Lukoil.  Its vice president, Sergei Nikiforov, said, “Today, Iraq and Russia inaugurated the giant oilfield of West Qurna, one of the largest fields discovered in the world.”

Stevens at Chatham House says developments like this are offsetting the impact of recent geopolitical upheavals. “The supply side has also improved, partially because Iraq has been coming on but more importantly because other OPEC members, particularly Saudi Arabia, have been increasing their production, in part in an effort to offset the loss of Iranian production because of the embargo," he said.

While the short-term outlook may be for a slow decline in oil prices, Stevens says a single event, such as an Israeli attack on Iran over its nuclear program, could see prices rocket towards $200 a barrel.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: HJRR from: USA
June 13, 2012 1:07 PM
Russia needs another kick in the pants. The fall of the USSR was in large part due to the collapse of oil prices and the cost of their war in Afghanistan. They were bankrupt politically, militarily and economically. Today, again they are dependent on oil exports and the only way for true reform in RUSSIA is for their to be another collapse in oil revenues to the state. Then and only then will the people get off their oil-drug-fix and be forced to make major reforms to their economy, their government and the whores they export to the world.

by: Mike
June 11, 2012 5:01 PM
In Russia, nothing is being done to get off the oil needle. The whole economy is tied to the sale to West energy. This policy led to the fact that Russia has become economically dependent country - Russia buys food abroad, the citizens of Russia prefer to buy Japanese, American and European cars, Russia complete zero in electronics, which is purchased only at the West and in China, Russia does not have a competitive industry for the production of clothing and shoes, and they are also buying in the West. In short, if tomorrow, for whatever reason, Russia will stop all of this to buy abroad, shelves of Russian stores will return to its original state - shelves will be empty again like in USSR ...
That is why Putin and his company, like air need high oil prices. They are a small decline has already caused nervousness in the Kremlin. If prices drop to $ 60 a barrel Russia's current budget would be impossible. That is why the civil war in Syria and a possible military strike on Iran in the interests of the ruling elite of Russia. Any tension, and especially the war in the Middle East will lead to a sharp rise in oil prices.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs