LONDON, March 11. /TASS/. Russia’s oil exports are expected to grow in 2015 as volumes are diverted from domestic refineries, which are reducing capacity as part of their modernization plans, Energy Minister Alexander Novak said in an interview with Reuters news agency on Wednesday.
In accordance with their modernization plans, Russian refineries will switch to produce fewer low-quality products such as fuel oil and more high-quality products such as diesel and gasoline, but in lower volumes, the energy minister said.
"The strategy is to cut refining throughput. That's due to an increase in light products output on the back of modernization," Novak said.
The Russian energy minister also said there was no need for new refineries in Russia while outdated plants would be closed.
"Ineffective (plants) will cease to exist due to competition," he said.
Russia will maintain its crude oil output at over 10 million barrels per day, despite some expectations of a plunge in production due to lower oil prices, the energy minister said.
Until now, Russian oil companies have been reducing crude oil exports and supplying much of their output to domestic refineries as this practice offers better margins than selling crude on the market at the current low prices. Now, Russia’s crude oil exports are expected to rise by up to 3 million tons in 2015 and to 280 million tons per year by 2035 from 224 million tons in 2014, Novak said.
Novak also said Russia planned to export 31 million tons of oil to China this year or 3 million tons more compared with 2014.
The energy minister said Russia will continue consultations with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Moscow’s representatives will meet OPEC officials in June in Vienna to discuss the impact of shale oil production on global oil markets.
An oil price of around $60 per barrel is satisfactory for Russian business, considering the plunge in the ruble's value. But the price of $70-$80 would be "more just", the energy minister said.
World oil prices may pick up to $65-70 per barrel by the end of the year as companies scale back investment and supply consequently falls, the minister said.