Oil Exports Register 25% Dip

Russian oil firms are shipping only three quarters of their planned November exports, as a government order to cut oil export duties failed to make exports profitable again, state pipeline monopoly Transneft said Sunday.

Traders predicted in late October that Russian oil companies would cut their November exports after the government decided against lowering oil export duties.

On Nov. 1, the government cut oil export duties, responding to the concerns of top producers, but the cut was far less than oil companies had wanted.

Transneft president Nikolai Tokarev said Sunday that all Russian producers had cut export volumes by a quarter since the start of November.

But he said the situation should not be overdramatic, calling the decrease in exports "a temporary phenomenon."

"Oil companies are simply being overcautious due to high oil export duties," Tokarev said on a visit to Cuba, Interfax reported.

"The situation must change within the coming week."

Tokarev said Transneft would consider Cuba's invitation to develop its pipeline network.

Sergei Bogdanchikov, president of Rosneft, was quoted as saying five Russian energy majors would each hold 20 percent in a national consortium that would develop Venezuelan hydrocarbon resources jointly with Venezuela's government.

He said the five Russian firms are Rosneft, gas export monopoly Gazprom, LUKoil, TNK-BP and Surgutneftegaz.