MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia, the world’s top oil producer, believes the U.S. decision to lift a 40-year ban on exporting crude oil will not affect the global oil market, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said.
Global oil prices are down to under $40 per barrel, trading close to an 11-year low, pressured by oversupply amid resistance by the leading producers, including Russia, to cut output.
Last Friday, Congress voted to repeal the 40-year-old ban on exporting U.S. crude oil, imposed after the Arab oil embargo of the early 1970s that sent gasoline prices soaring and contributed to runaway inflation.
“This should not affect the market, this country (the United States) is an importer, it needs to buy oil on the market itself,” Novak told reporters.
U.S. energy group Enterprise and oil trader Vitol became the first firms eager to “stress test” the lifting of the export ban.
The United States consumed around 19 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil products in 2014, a fifth of the world’s total, with net imports of oil and oil products accounting for just over a quarter of total U.S. consumption, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Novak also said that Russian oil companies were examining stress scenarios for an oil price of $30-$35 a barrel and that Russian preliminary oil output in 2015 was around 533 million tonnes, or 10.70 million bpd.
Low oil prices along with Western sanctions on Russia have put pressure on the rouble since last year, making the Russian oil industry one of the lowest cost and helping to increase investments.
Novak said that investments in Russian oil production were around 1.1 trillion rubles ($15.7 billion) this year, up from some 980 billion rubles in 2014.
Oil output in Russia is expected to rise to a new post-Soviet average high in 2016, 10.78 million bpd, as new fields come online and producers enjoy lower costs, a Reuters poll showed this week.
Reporting by Katya Golubkova, Anastasia Lyrchikova and Olesya Astakhova; Writing by Alexander Winning/Katya Golubkova; Editing by Jane Merriman and Adrian Croft