MOSCOW, Sept 30 Russia introduced new tax breaks
on Monday encouraging oil firms to explore hard to reach
undersea fields, in the hope of unlocking new reserves as the
country approaches full production capacity from its dwindling
oil deposits in West Siberia.
Russia, the world's top energy producer, is now pumping
close to its maximum capacity, around 10.5 million barrels a
day. The government, hoping to maintain that pace for at least
the next decade, is keen to encourage
exploration of vast, untapped undersea fields which are
estimated to hold more than 100 billion tonnes of hydrocarbons.
That's the equivalent of roughly 25 years' worth of current
global oil consumption - if a means can be found to unlock it.
Undersea deposits, some located hundreds of kilometres away from
the shore, require huge investment in the form of costly
infrastructure such as pipelines or floating drilling rigs.
The new tax breaks are designed to make this kind of
investment more attractive. On Monday Russian President Vladimir
Putin approved amendments to a bill that will cut tax on mineral
extraction as well as reducing export duties and taxes on oil
companies' profits, after Russia's Lower and Upper Houses of
Parliament both voted in support of the measure.
The new tax regime will apply to both oil and gas deposits
and is expected to come in force from next year.