* Gazprom’s condensate production jumps 10 pct
* January output at 10.36 mln bpd vs 10.32 mln bpd in Dec
* Daily gas production edged up to 2.04 bcm from 2.03 bcm (Adds detail, analyst comment)
By Vladimir Soldatkin
MOSCOW, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Oil output from Russia, the world’s biggest producer, hit a record high last month thanks to higher pumping rates at Rosneft and Gazprom.
Oil production growth in Russia, which is expected to flatten in coming years, again surprised analysts on the upside as it hit a post-Soviet record monthly high of 10.36 million barrels per day (bpd) in January, the Energy Ministry said on Thursday.
This was up from 10.32 million bpd in December. The previous monthly record in oil production of 10.34 million bpd was reached in November and October.
Overall daily natural gas production edged up to 2.04 billion cubic metres (bcm) last month from 2.03 bcm in December, while gas production at Gazprom stood at 1.56 bcm a day in January comparing to 1.55 bcm in the previous month.
But even with growing volumes, a company source on Wednesday said Gazprom was struggling to meet rising gas demand in Europe amid a current deep cold snap.
Russia’s oil production remained ahead of 9.75 million bpd pumped last month by Saudi Arabia, which stands ready to boost production to offset an expected supply crunch on the back of a forthcoming EU embargo on Iranian oil.
According to the Energy Ministry, production at Rosneft’s Vankor field in East Siberia increased by 4.4 percent in January, month-on-month, to 330,000 barrels per day, while Gazprom’s condensate output - an item, which falls into the crude oil production category - shot up 11 percent to 342,000 barrels per day.
Analysts have said that the increase caught them wrong-footed as they did not expect such a positive trend at the height of winter.
“The new record was quite unexpected if you look at the previous months’ statistics. Gazprom’s gas condensate helped a lot to improve the figures. Looks like we are in for a long upward trend with Gazprom,” Denis Borisov from Nomos bank said.
Last year, oil output at Russia averaged a post-Soviet record of 10.27 million bpd as several new fields, which account for around 13 percent of total production, came onstream.
The Energy Ministry expects crude output to grow by around 1 percent against the backdrop of greenfield production ramp-ups and commissioning of Gazprom’s Prirazlomnoye deposit - the first Arctic offshore field, which Russia is about to start developing.
This would be slower than a 2.2 percent rise in 2010 and a 1.2 percent increase in 2011.
“I would expect a flat production as output at new fields will offset a decline at mature deposits,” Borisov said.
Prirazlomnoye will be the only major oilfield to be launched in Russia this year. Peak production at the field, with estimated reserves of 526 million barrels, stands at 120,000 barrels per day within several years.
Russia relies heavily on oil and gas revenues, which constitute around a half of its budget.
According to a Reuters poll, tensions between Iran and the West over Teheran’s nuclear programme have pushed up expectations for the average price of Brent crude oil in 2012 to over $107 a barrel from a previous forecast of $105.2. This compares to a record-high average of $110.91 last year. (Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; additional reporting by Olesya Astakhova; editing by Keiron Henderson)