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Russia says it’s ready to sell oil to ‘friendly countries’ in ‘any price range’

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Russian energy minister Nikolai Shulginov said the country is ready to sell oil and oil products to “friendly countries” in “any price range,” the Izvestia newspaper reported on Wednesday (Apr 13).

Shulginov was speaking to the pro-Kremlin outlet about the state of the Russian oil and gas industry, which is facing challenges due to boycotts and sanctions over the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

He told the outlet crude oil prices could reach $80 to $150 a barrel in principle, although Russia was more focused on ensuring the functioning of the oil industry. International benchmark Brent crude oil hit nearly $140 a barrel last month and has since come off to around $100 a barrel as of Wednesday (Apr 13).

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Shulginov didn’t specify which “friendly countries” he was referring to, but India and China have been buying cargoes of cheap Russian oil. Neither country has overtly condemned Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

India, the world’s third-largest consumer of oil, purchased about 12 million barrels from Russia last year, making up only 2% of its total imports. Meanwhile, China’s large state oil refineries are not signing new Russian oil contracts, although smaller independent refiners are still buying Russian oil discreetly, Reuters report last week.

Russia is an energy powerhouse, so even amid sanctions and boycotts, the country will still reap nearly $321 million from its energy exports in 2022 – 36% more than in 2021, Bloomberg Economics forecast in April.

The Europe Union (EU), a major customer of Russian energy, approved a ban on coal from the country last week. It’s also considering an oil ban, but the EU has not mentioned cutting off natural gas as Europe remains highly reliant on piped gas from the country.

Even so, the Russian economy is expected to contract 11.2% in 2022, the World Bank said in a report released Sunday (Apr 10). The country’s March oil and gas revenue was also 38% lower than Russia’s finance ministry had forecast on March 3, according to data from the ministry, published Tuesday (Apr 12).

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