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“Today’s fall in oil prices is mainly caused by the speculative factor. It is difficult to predict the time when this speculative factor will stop to play its role,” Novak said.
There are also objective factors causing a fall in world oil prices, the minister said.
“These are slower-than-expected economic growth rates, including in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. This, in turn, has cut forecasts on the demand for oil,” Novak said.
The minister declined to comment on the speculation that a plunge in oil prices was caused by collusion between certain countries.
“I’m an energy minister, not an analyst of a consulting firm. I would not speak about any collusion theories,” he said.
The price of Brent crude has plunged by 26% since June 2014 when it was trading at $113 per barrel to $83.4 per barrel, the lowest level since 2010.
The level of oil prices affects Russia’s balance of payments as crude oil accounts for a third of the country’s exports, according to data of the State Statistics Service Rosstat. A fall in oil prices is reducing oil companies’ US dollar-denominated revenues and, as a result, pushing the ruble down.
The US currency rose to above 41 rubles to the US dollar on the Moscow Exchange on Wednesday amid rapidly declining oil prices. The ruble has been falling for seven consecutive trading sessions and the national currency has shed 2.6 rubles against the US dollar in the past four weeks.
The Bank of Russia’s foreign currency interventions have failed to rescue the ruble from its further decline: the regulator has spent almost $7 billion since the start of October on foreign currency interventions but the US dollar has grown by more than 1 ruble over this period. During a trading session on October 13 alone, the Bank of Russia spent almost $2.7 billion on foreign exchange interventions.