Russia Finance Minister: budget to be short of over $38 billion at current oil price

Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov attends a session of the Gaidar Forum 2016 'Russia and the World: Looking to the Future' in Moscow, Russia, January 13, 2016. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said in a television interview on Saturday that the fall in oil prices meant the Russian budget would be short of more than 3 trillion roubles ($38.6 billion) of income.

Russia’s economy has been hammered by the collapse in global oil prices since mid-2014 as energy sales account for roughly half of federal budget revenues.

Its current budget for 2016 was calculated based on a Urals oil price of $50. Urals URL-E, Russia's main export blend, traded at around $27 on Friday.

“Therefore there is a difference of two times, and I want to say that for budget income this difference equates to over 3 trillion roubles,” Siluanov said in an interview on the current affairs programme Vesti on Saturday with Sergei Brilev.

The oil price slide has also put pressure on the rouble, which is down over 50 percent versus the dollar since oil prices started a relentless drive downwards.

But Siluanov said the rouble had weathered the worst because oil prices could not fall as far as they already have from their previous peak.

“Our main export commodity, as we have already discussed, fell in price by four times,” Siluanov said. “One can hardly expect prices to fall four times further compared to today’s level.”

He added that Russia could have to use part of its National Wealth Fund (NWF) to cover the budget deficit in 2016, if measures were not taken to bring Russia’s budget in line with the new oil price reality.

The NWF is one of Russia’s two rainy-day sovereign funds, alongside the Reserve Fund. Part of the NWF is already invested in infrastructure projects.

Reporting by Alexander Winning, Maria Kiselyova and Darya Korsunskaya; Editing by Richard Balmforth