Russia veers toward recession as oil prices fall

Russia, heavily dependent on oil exports, could suffer after OPEC elected not to increase production Thursday.
By Ed Adamczyk Contact the Author   |   Nov. 28, 2014 at 1:25 PM
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NEW YORK, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- With the price of crude oil falling, Russia will soon sink into a recession, a Bloomberg News survey of analysts indicated.

The price of Brent crude oil, the benchmark used by oil traders when considering Urals, Russia's major oil export, fell below $75 Friday after a Thursday meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed not to increase production.

Analysts believe a fall in the price of Urals will tip Russia into recession. The cost of Urals has averaged about $80 per barrel through the first half of November, and a lower price could spell trouble for the Russian economy. It has since fallen into the $70-80 range.

"Growth in domestic demand, which has been the major driver for the last several years, is almost exhausted," Anna Bogdyukevich, an economist at ZAO UniCredit Bank "The economy may contract even if the oil price remains at its current level for an extended period of time."

Brent crude sold at $71.91 per barrel Friday on ICE Futures Europe, down 0.9 percent, and West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, shed more than $4 Friday to trade below $70 per barrel.

Energy stocks fell sharply Friday after the Thanksgiving holiday. The Russian ruble fell to an all-time low, and the Canadian dollar, Norwegian krone and Nigerian naira, each used by an oil-exporting country, fell as well.

"OPEC yesterday delivered just about the most unfriendly possible response to ruble and oil prices," said Tom Levinson, an analyst at Russia's Sberbank.

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