Russia expects to earn $9.6 billion more in April due to high oil prices

A view shows railroad freight car in Omsk
View shows railroad freight cars, including oil tanks, in Omsk, Russia May 1, 2020. REUTERS

April 5 (Reuters) - Russia expects to earn 798.4 billion roubles ($9.6 billion) in additional revenue from energy sales in April due to high oil prices, the finance ministry said, as Moscow needs cash to finance its obligations while being cut off from its reserves.

After imposing harsh sanctions on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine in February, effectively detaching it from the global financial system, western nations are discussing how to replace oil and gas imports from Moscow.

While blocked from accessing around half of its $640 billion in gold and foreign exchange reserves, Russia promised billions in fresh social payments and support to businesses while also needing cash to service its domestic and external debts. read more

Russia, which is Europe's top gas supplier and the world's second-biggest oil exporter after Saudi Arabia, has seen some of its barrels being either delayed or refused by western buyers following sanctions.

The ministry said on Tuesday that it received 302 billion roubles less in revenue in March from energy sales compared to its initial plan, amid lower-than-expected gas sales. Its initial plan called for 790 billion roubles in additional budget revenue amid higher energy prices in March.

Russia exported 15.3 billion cubic metres of gas to outside the former Soviet Union in March, its key source of export revenue, versus 11.8 billion cubic metres in February, according to Reuters calculations based on preliminary Gazprom data.

The finance ministry did not disclose its gas export forecast for March.

From April 1, Russia demanded that end-payments for its gas sent via pipelines to Europe should be made in roubles - a change a number of buyers refused to accept. read more

On Monday, the United States stopped the Russian government from paying holders of its sovereign debt more than $600 million from reserves held at U.S. banks, saying it "must choose between draining remaining valuable dollar reserves or new revenue coming in, or default." read more

The finance ministry did not respond to a Reuters request for comment on how it planned to process its external debt payments after the U.S. ban. It had earlier said payments would be done in roubles should forex operations be blocked.

($1 = 82.8930 roubles)

Reporting by Reuters; editing by Jason Neely and Bernadette Baum

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