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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Growth Forecast Increased

The Economic Development and Trade Ministry said Monday that it had increased this year's economic growth forecast to 7.3 percent from 6.5 percent.

The economy expanded 7.9 percent in the first half on booming construction and retail sales. Economic growth will probably accelerate from 6.7 percent in 2006, when gross domestic product reached $1 trillion. (Bloomberg)

Gas Sales to Europe Fall

Natural gas exports to Europe fell 14 percent in the first eight months of the year after milder-than-usual weather reduced consumption in the country's main foreign market, the Industry and Energy Ministry said Monday in a report posted on its web site

Russia sold 93.36 billion cubic meters of gas to European countries, including the three former-Soviet Baltic states, from January through August this year, the ministry said. (Bloomberg)

Gazprom Kamchatka Pipe

Gazprom was ordered Monday to take over and complete a potentially money-losing pipeline on the Kamchatka peninsula that was started seven years ago, Kommersant reported Monday.

Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov ordered state-run Gazprom to take over the project from state oil producer Rosneft, the newspaper said.

Rosneft and Gazprom both doubt that the project will be profitable, Kommersant said, citing Gazprom deputy chief executive Alexander Ananenkov and an unidentified Rosneft executive. (Bloomberg)

Central Bank Buys Dollars

The Central Bank intervened buying dollars Monday after the ruble firmed to 29.62 against the dollar and euro currency basket used to guide the managed float of the ruble, traders said Monday.

"We saw the Central Bank buying dollars for rubles," said Sergei Romanchuk from Metalloinvest Bank. Another currency trader said the trade volumes were not yet significant. (Reuters)

Urals Reserves Approved

The Natural Resources Ministry said Monday that it approved oil reserves statements made by Urals Energy, a London-listed oil company that operates in Russia.

The ministry, which is checking foreign-listed oil companies for discrepancies between their international and Russian standard reserves statements, said in a statement that it completed a review of Urals Energy. (Bloomberg)

Lithuania Seeks Direct Gas

Lithuania wants to buy natural gas directly from Gazprom, bypassing a trader controlled by the gas company, Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas said, Interfax reported Monday.

Lithuania may buy 3 billion cubic meters of gas from Russia next year, Kirkilas said, Interfax reported. Dujotekana, the Gazprom-controlled trader, charges more for gas sales than gas importer Lietuvos Dujos, the service said. (Bloomberg)

E.On Seeks Protection

FRANKFURT -- E.On chief executive Wulf Bernotat said the German government should take steps to protect domestic utilities from being bought by companies under foreign state protection, Financial Times Deutschland reported Monday.

It would make sense to change German law to stop companies operating in protected markets from buying companies in Germany that do not enjoy such protection, the newspaper said, citing an interview with Bernotat. (Bloomberg)

Hungarian Gas Prices

BUDAPEST -- Gazprom will raise the price of gas in Hungary by 10 percent, the Nepszabadsag newspaper said Monday, without saying where it got the information.

Gazprom will charge E.On Hungaria, Hungary's natural gas importer and wholesaler, $300 per cubic meter of gas starting in January, compared with the current price of $270 per cubic meter, the newspaper said. (Bloomberg)

Gazprom on E.On Hungaria

BUDAPEST -- Gazprom is not interested in a 25 percent-plus-one-share stake in E.On Hungaria, E.On's Hungarian power and gas service unit, Nepszabadsag newspaper reported Monday, without saying where it got the information.

Gazprom would prefer a 50 percent-minus-one-share stake in E.On's trade and storage units in Hungary, the newspaper said. E.On wants to trade a stake in its Hungarian units for a share of Gazprom's Yuzhno-Russkoye gas field in Siberia, the newspaper said. (Bloomberg)

OGK-5 to Boost Capacity

OGK-5, the power generator part-owned by Italy's Enel, boosted its investment program by 25 percent after securing fuel contracts, company spokesman Sergei Karaulov said Monday.

The generator's board agreed to spend 75 billion rubles ($3 billion) through 2012 and add 2,020 megawatts of capacity, Karaulov said. OGK-5 previously planned to spend 60 billion rubles on new generation. (Bloomberg)

Russia Sets Grain Price

The government will begin selling grain from its reserves if the domestic price of wheat reaches 5,500 rubles ($219.91) per ton, Kommersant reported Monday.

The government will sell its reserves in conjunction with the imposition of taxes on grain exports, acting Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev said, the newspaper reported. Russia may impose a 30 percent export tax on barley, as long as that exceeds 70 euros ($98.81) per ton, in November, he said. (Bloomberg)

Petrolinvest Strikes Oil

WARSAW -- Petrolinvest, a Polish company exploring for crude in the former Soviet republics, struck oil in Kazakhstan and will test another three levels at the same well, it said in a statement late Sunday.

The G-4D well at the Zubantam deposit has "registered estimated productivity" of 40 barrels per day at one level, the statement said. (Bloomberg)

EuroChem's Venezuela Plans

EuroChem plans to build a nitrogen-based fertilizer plant in Venezuela, Kommersant reported Monday, citing a list of projects drawn up after a bilateral business forum last week.

A joint venture will be formed to build the plant, with an output of more than 1 million tons. No further details are known about the project, the newspaper said. (Bloomberg)

Mars Sales Seen Up 20%

Mars, the U.S. maker of M&Ms and Snickers candy bars, expects Russian sales to rise 20 percent this year, outpacing global revenue growth of 7 percent, said Richard Smyth, head of Mars Russia, Vedomosti reported Monday.

The privately held candy maker, which competes with Nestle and Kraft Foods, expects Russia's chocolate market to become the world's second largest after the United States in the near future, Smyth said. (Bloomberg)