April 14 (UPI) -- Russia is taking a conservative approach to the price of oil, pegging its scenario for growth at $40 per barrel for the nation's benchmark Urals crude oil.
"Taking into account that world oil reserves remain at a high level and intensive growth of shale oil production in the United States, we are lay[ing] down $40 per barrel price of Urals oil in our conservative scenario," Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin was quoted by Russian news agency Tass as saying.
Economists at the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries reported Urals crude prices in March averaged $49.94 per barrel, a decline of 7 percent from the February average. All major crude oil benchmarks lost value in March, though the downturn for Urals crude compared with a 6.2 percent decline for Brent crude oil, the global benchmark.
Oil prices moved lower on signs of an over-supplied market last month, but have since recovered amid market tightening attributed in part to a decision by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to curb output. Russia is party to that agreement as a non-member state and said it would have cut 300,000 barrels of oil per day by the end of April to meet its commitments.
The price for Brent crude oil is up 7.8 percent from the March average to around $55.50 per barrel in early Friday trading.
Parties to the agreement meet in Vienna next month to assess its impact on crude oil markets. Shale oil basins in the United States have responded by producing more oil, offsetting some of the impact from the OPEC-led managed production declines.
Russian oil companies are on record as saying they favor extending the deal by another six months. Some estimates put the return to balance on the global oil market in the second half of the year and the U.S. government estimates Brent crude oil prices will average $54 per barrel for 2017.
Under baseline scenarios, Russia's development minister said the economy is still under pressure after lingering in recession last year.
"We consider serious toughening of monetary conditions in combining real interest rates growth and serious ruble appreciation to be one of the risks for economic growth in the current year," he said. "According to our estimates, if the current conditions remain that can lead to a slowdown in economic growth by the middle of the year, and the inflation rate will fall below 3 percent, by the end of the year."