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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Oil Exports Increase Despite Output Drop

Oil exports jumped by more than 6 percent in April to their second highest ever despite a decline in output, as higher oil prices and refinery maintenance prompted oil firms to send more crude abroad, Industry and Energy Ministry data showed Wednesday.

The data showed that oil exports via pipeline monopoly Transneft rose by 280,000 barrels per day from March to 4.69 million bpd, just short of the previous record of 4.76 million bpd in May 2006.

"There could be another jump in May this year as people will try to evacuate more crude before export duties jump from June making exports less profitable," a trader with a Russian major said.

Transneft has already set a bigger oil export schedule for May with shipments expected to rise by at least 80,000 bpd.

The jump in April exports came amid reduced domestic refinery runs with LUKoil's Volgograd having half of its capacity slashed by a fire in March and Surgut's Kirishi putting one of its primary distillation units on an upgrade.

Some maintenance work will be extended into May, and that could force some producers to continue trimming output to avoid an oil glut at home.

April production declined by 50,000 bpd or 0.6 percent to 9.82 million bpd from the previous all-time high of 9.87 million bpd in March.

Most big producers, including LUKoil, Rosneft, Gazpromneft and Russneft, which have been growing in the previous months, showed a decline in production of 0.5 to 2 percent.

Output at production sharing agreements, led by ExxonMobil's Sakhalin-1 group, also declined by 7.8 percent in April. Exxon has said it hit peak production of 250,000 bpd in March.

April output was 2.3 percent higher than in April 2006 and overall production in the first four months of the year was 3.7 percent higher than in January-April 2006.

April exports rose across all destinations, including a 1 percent increase in deliveries to Central Europe via the Druzhba pipeline and a healthy 9.4 percent jump in exports via seaports.

The main addition came in the Baltic Sea port of Primorsk and Ukraine's Black Sea port of Odessa.