MOSCOW, Dec. 4 (UPI) -- Russia needs to explore export revenue from products outside the energy sector as the economy braces for a long period of low oil prices, a minister said.
"Unfortunately, we have entered a rather long period, when commodity prices are not as high as over the last 10-15 years," Russian Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyakayev lamented.
Russia relies heavily on exports of oil and gas for government revenue, leaving its economy vulnerable to lower energy prices. Crude oil prices are 35 percent lower than this date in 2014.
Crude oil prices are lower in part because the increase in global production is more than a weakened economy can absorb.
Gazprom Neft, a division of Russian energy giant Gazprom and the country's fourth-largest crude oil producer, said, however, that production volumes of 436.4 million barrels of oil equivalent represented a 22.2 percent increase year-on-year. The company credited the gains in part to an increase at its arctic Prirazlomnoye field.
Ulyakayev said the ministry needs to develop an economic foundation outside the energy sector if it's to endure the weakened oil economy.
Russian President Vladimir Putin told members of the Federal Assembly earlier this week the current economic situation was complicated but "not critical."
"We must be prepared for low commodity prices and external restrictions to last much longer," he said. "By changing nothing, we will simply run out of reserves and the economic growth rates will linger around zero."
The central bank this week added Russia is pressured further because sanctions restrict borrower access to Western financial markets.
The inflation rate as of October was 15.6 percent. The Central Bank of Russia has set a goal of 4 percent by 2017.