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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yukos Exports Skyrocket as Oil Output Hits New High

Yukos reported on Monday a huge increase in crude oil and refined products exports in 2002, saying rail and river shipments allowed it to avoid a domestic oil glut.

Yukos increased its oil production by 19.3 percent last year, but said Monday that its crude oil exports had jumped by 31.1 percent, while products shipments had increased by 12.4 percent compared with 2001.

Russia's oil output is booming for the fifth-straight year and has reached a new post Soviet-high of 8.1 million barrels per day in February, but the country's exports, second in the world after Saudi Arabia, stand at 3.5 million barrels per day due to limited capacities of the state pipeline monopoly Transneft.

Transneft allows oil firms to ship abroad only one-third of their output, forcing producers to resort to other routes and means to boost shipments to lucrative Western markets.

Yukos said pipeline shipments and alternative routes helped it to send abroad more than a half of its output in 2002.

The firm produced 69.5 million metric tons, or 1.4 million bpd, and exported 36.8 million tons, of which 25.6 million tons left the country via Transneft's pipelines, while alternative routes accounted for around one-third of exports.

The company said it exported 10.3 million tons of refined products to international markets, up 12.4 percent from 2001.

Transneft carries more than three-quarters of Russia's total oil exports, the second largest in the world after Saudi Arabia.

February export levels of 3.1 million bpd include transit volumes mainly from Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, which were flat compared with January at 389,000 bpd.

Russian-only crude exports via Transneft stood at 2.71 million bpd, unchanged from January.

Traders estimate volumes leaving the country by rail and small ports and thus bypassing Transneft at 600,000 bpd and put real volumes of crude oil exported from and via Russia by all means and routes at around 4 million bpd.

Traders said that oil firms were likely to face the same export difficulties until April because March is normally a stormy month on the Black Sea.

"It seems that people have lost hope that Transneft will reopen a pipeline to the Latvian port of Ventspils," said a Western trader.

"So we have to wait for improvement on the Black Sea and the start of river navigation," the trader said.

Transneft slashed oil shipments to Ventspils to zero in January from around 350,000 bpd a year earlier, saying oil firms preferred other routes to reach world markets.

Market players say that the move is most likely designed to put pressure on the port's owners to sell Transneft a stake in the terminal, once the biggest outlet for Russia's crude on its way to northern Europe, at a bargain-basement price.

"In March, Ventspils will again get zero crude," said an industry source.

"I don't think the route will be reopened until Transneft buys into Ventspils."