Russia to raise export duties on gasoline exports in May to boost domestic stocks

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin ordered Deputy Energy Minister Sergei Kudryashov to prepare proposals by the end of the day on Thursday for raising export duties on oil products, in a bid to avert shortages of gasoline in Russia.

Several regions have been badly hit by gasoline shortages since last weekend, as producers exported fuel to take advantage of rising prices.

The higher export duties will be compensated by lower mineral extraction tax or excise duties.

Putin also said that the introduction of the Euro-3 fuel standard for this year should be postponed, in coordination with Belarus and Kazakhstan, Russia’s partners in the customs union.

“This is movement. We are not going to turn left or right but deadlines should be matched with our agreements with neighbors and coordinated with repair works at leading refineries,” he said.

Earlier on Thursday, Kudryashov said Russia would suspend exports of gasoline in May to meet domestic demand, after almost a week of dire shortages in some regions of the world’s top oil producer.

“I think we must satisfy the need at the expense of cutting exports,” Kudryashov said. “We have agreed now that oil companies will supply all their oil products to the domestic market.”

Fuel shortages began over the weekend, when most filling stations not belonging to major oil companies ceased trading because of a lack of fuel in the Altai region in southern Siberia. The deficit later spread further, to the Siberian cities of Tomsk, Irkutsk and Novosibirsk, where filling stations are either closed or sell limited amounts of gasoline.

Shortages were also felt in Murmansk, in the north-west of Russia.

Analysts said oil companies had switched fuel supplies abroad where prices are rising, while in Russia the government has kept a tight lid on fuel prices ahead of parliamentary elections in December and the presidential poll in March. The Federal Antimonopoly Service says it suspects a cartel agreement between large oil firms, while the Prosecutor’s Office launched several cases against producers.

Kudryashov said Russia had exported about 1 million tons of oil products in the first four months of 2011 compared with 3 million tons in the whole of 2010.

A source close to Rosneft said the company had dismissed Igor Romashov, its vice president in charge of oil product supplies, over the disruptions in regional deliveries.

Gasoline price rises were reported across the country at between 2 and 20 percent this week. Kudryashov said he expected a further 5 percent rise. “Some price adjustment is possible,” he said.

Kudryashov said earlier he did not see state regulation of prices as a solution.

“We believe there is no such necessity because we have enough (oil product) reserves,” he said.

MOSCOW, April 28 (RIA Novosti) 

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