Oil Firms Ordered to Supply Fuel

The Federal Anti-Monopoly Service ordered the country's five largest energy companies, including state-run Gazprom and Rosneft, to ensure fuel deliveries to independent retailers after supplies dropped last month.

The Service sent the order last week, according to a statement posted on its web site and dated Nov. 16. TNK-BP, LUKoil and Surgutneftegaz were also warned not to favor their own retail networks in areas where they are the dominant suppliers.

The government is struggling to restrain inflation amid record prices for oil and natural gas. The average price of 92-octane gasoline climbed 2 percent, or 15 kopeks, to 19.27 rubles per liter ($3 per gallon) in the month to Nov. 6, according to the State Statistics Service.

Inflation may exceed 11 percent this year, surpassing the previous year's rate for the first time since 1998.

"Given the recent undersupply of fuel products to a series of independent filling stations, the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service decided that in such situations supplies should be made proportionally to so-called 'our' and 'their' stations," Anatoly Golomolzin, deputy head of the watchdog, said in the statement.

The Federal Anti-Monopoly Service, which has the power to fine companies for violations, may retract the order after a fuel-product exchange starts working next year, Golomolzin said.

The Moscow Oil Refinery cut output 42 percent to 118,000 barrels per day during annual maintenance in October. TNK BP nearly halted its Saratov plant during maintenance last month, while gasoline production at its Ryazan refinery fell 18 percent to 235,800 tons after a power failure damaged equipment.