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Russia's Rosneft to increase 2016 investments

Oil company director tells Putin of responsibility to generate export revenue.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) hears 2016 investment plans from the director of state oil company Rosneft. Photo courtesy of the Office of the Russian President.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) hears 2016 investment plans from the director of state oil company Rosneft. Photo courtesy of the Office of the Russian President.

MOSCOW, March 29 (UPI) -- The head of Russian oil company Rosneft told the president that investments for the year will be 30 percent higher despite the pressure from low oil prices.

Russian President Vladimir Putin met in Moscow with Igor Sechin, the director of state-controlled oil company Rosneft, to review corporate performance in the weakened energy market.

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Last year, Sechin asked the Kremlin to use a national welfare fund to support the growing debt of Rosneft, which has struggled under the pressure of economic sanctions and lower crude oil prices. This year, he said, investments will increase.

"Mr. President, our collected assets and experience make it possible for us to increase our investment program this year," he said in published remarks. "It will be approximately 30 percent higher this year than in 2015, and comes to around $14.6 billion."

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When crude prices contracted sharply last year, the International Monetary Fund described Russia's economy as among the hardest hit by the weakness. This month, the Russian Central Bank said it was keeping key interest rates steady at 11 percent, pointing to lingering economic pressures from lower oil prices and Western sanctions imposed in part in response to Russia's strategic policies in Eastern Europe and Syria.

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Crude oil prices are lower because supplies far outweigh demand. Rosneft said its output last year was about 1 percent higher than in 2014.

Putin told the Rosneft director that, with a stake in the company, the government was "not indifferent" about pressure it was facing from lower crude oil prices.

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"The crisis on the world markets and the fall in oil prices has made for a difficult situation over these past years, but I am happy to be able to tell you the company has coped with this market instability," Sechin said. "We understand our responsibility for supplying oil products to the domestic market, and for bringing in export revenue."

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