JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Crumbling Power Vertical: Decreasing Disposable Income Drives Discontentment” – PONARS Eurasia

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“Accumulating evidence points at prospects of growing destabilization at the regional level in Russia. In 2019, five consecutive years of economic stagnation ignited a wave of protests across the country. In 2020, as Russia’s economic situation worsened dramatically due to a pandemic-driven halt to economic activity combined with a fall in oil prices, support for Kremlin appointees might start crumbling […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Travel Ban, Oil Supplies on Russia-Belarus Agenda” – Moscow Times

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Sept. 4, 2020) Russia and Belarus are preparing to reopen borders that were closed because of the coronavirus pandemic and are discussing rerouting Belarusian oil exports through Russia, news outlets reported after high-level talks Thursday. Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and his delegation met Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and his government in Minsk amid continuing […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Belarus’ Soviet-era economy still propped up by Moscow” – Deutsche Welle/ Nik Martin

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“Belarus has one of the lowest poverty rates in Europe, but economic growth is anemic due to archaic state-run industries and the ending of Russian energy subsidies. Its biggest political crisis is even more of a threat.” “… Belarus’ dependence on energy-rich Russia is ever more evident …. Moscow has already offered to help bolster security [amidst the current crisis] […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia should rethink its role in new energy economy” – The National (UAE)/ Robin Mills

Gas Flame file photo

“Global gas market remains oversupplied and renewables only makes up a small part of the country’s energy mix.” “Russia’s energy sector has so far come through the pandemic better than some might have expected. … Opec+ … has shored up oil revenue and the rouble. But [Russia’s] longer-term outlook is cloudy, both in petroleum and its unstrategic approach to new […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russian Economy Shrank 8.5% in Second Quarter – Official Data; Fall in GDP is less severe than government and Central Bank feared” – AFP

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

“Russia’s economy contracted … 8.5% year-on-year in the second quarter, the state statistics agency [Rosstat] said … in its first assessment of the impact of … coronavirus and an oil crisis. GDP fell in ‘all areas of the economy except agriculture’ … Rosstat … said …, with passenger transport down 79% and the services industry down 37.2% The sharp drop […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Vladimir Putin Is No Mastermind, But He Has Played Russia’s Cards Well; It verges on impossible to forecast what Moscow will do tactically. What it will do strategically, however, is more intelligible and thus more predictable.” – The National Interest/ James Holmes

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

“…. The Russian armed forces … have to live within their means. Russia depends heavily on exporting oil and natural gas … [L]ow energy prices constrict … national income and … ability to afford pricey armaments. Prices …  have run off a cliff amid coronavirus lockdowns. … [F]or instance … the Severnoye Design Bureau, a division of the United Shipbuilding […]

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Russia Considers Emulating The World’s Largest Oil Hedge

Oil Well file photo

(Oilprice.com – Tsvetana Paraskova – July 22, 2020) Russia is considering whether to adopt a kind of state oil hedging program, similar to Mexico’s oil hedge, to protect government revenues from oil price crashes in the future, Russian news agency Interfax reported on Wednesday, quoting sources familiar with the matter. The Mexican oil hedge, or the Hacienda Hedge, is considered […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “There Is No Arctic Axis; Russia and China’s partnership in the north is primarily driven by business, not politics.” – Foreign Policy/ Elizabeth Buchanan

Arctic Map

“… [C]ommercial realpolitik is at the heart of [Russia and China’s Arctic] engagement. … [even as it] navigates existing fault lines, such as Beijing’s failure to acknowledge Russia’s annexation of Crimea and Moscow’s nonalignment in the … India-China conflict. … [R]egional cooperation is due to … shared interest[s] in maintaining domestic stability. Long-term economic development ventures and the viability of […]

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Russians Increasingly Angry that They Live in Poverty in a Country So Rich in Natural Resources

Oil Well file photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 28, 2020) The pandemic and associated economic crisis have exacerbated widespread anger among Russians that they live in poverty despite the enormous natural wealth of their country and its sale earlier abroad for more than six trillion US dollars. Had even a small part of that money gone to the people, […]

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Who Will Pay For Russia’s Unprecedented Oil Spill?

Map of Arctic Highlighting Permafrost, adapted from image at nasa.gov

(Oilprice.com – Alex Kimani – June 11, 2020) Five days ago, Russia suffered its worst oil spill in modern history after a fuel storage tank owned by Russian nickel and palladium mining company, Nornickel, collapsed and spilled 21,000 tonnes (about 158,000 barrels) of diesel into the nearby Ambarnaya river outside the Siberian city of Norilsk. The accident–which has drawn comparisons […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “The massive Norilsk fuel spill could be linked to permafrost thaw, a growing threat to Arctic infrastructure” – Arctic Today / Melody Schreiber

Map of Arctic Highlighting Permafrost, adapted from image at nasa.gov

“Infrastructure built on permafrost needs to be better monitored, experts and officials say.” “… [O]ne of the largest ever oil spills in the Russian Arctic may have been caused in part by permafrost thaw, according to the [polluting] company …. Experts … long warned that … [without] precautionary steps … such thaw could cause[] billions of dollars in damage to […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Pandemic Upends Putin’s Plans to Raise Russia’s Dwindling Birthrate” – Wall Street Journal/ Ann M. Simmons

File Photo of Russian Crowd, with Russian Flag Being Waved

“President Vladimir Putin has been trying for years to push Russia’s birthrate higher, but the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic is undermining his efforts” “… The Kremlin has been trying for years to encourage Russians to have more children. … Putin sees replenishing … population as … key to expanding Russia’s economic and political power. But … falling incomes […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin’s Global Ambitions Are Upended by Coronavirus’s Heavy Toll in Russia” – Wall Street Journal/ Yaroslav Trofimov, Thomas Grove

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

Russian president’s efforts to showcase the country’s strength abroad backfired amid virus troubles at home […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia says has stopped spread of Arctic fuel spill” – AFP

Map of Arctic Highlighting Permafrost, adapted from image at nasa.gov

“Russia has … contain[ed] a massive diesel spill into [an Arctic] river … the emergencies ministry [stated] … Environmentalists said the oil spill, which took place [a week earlier] … was the worst such accident ever in the Arctic region. … [A] diesel reservoir collapsed at a power station outside the northern Siberian city of Norilsk[ owned by a subsidiary […]

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Khodorkovsky Marks the Spot: Russia’s Turning Point From Economic Freedom to State Control

File Photo of Judge and Clerk in Russian Court, with Russian Flag Behind Bench

… Khodorkovsky was not the first oligarch harassed by Putin, but this was indeed a turning point. Khodorkovsky was the richest man in Russia at that point precisely because he cleaned up his oil company’s corporate governance. […]

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Putin To Bail Out Russian Oil Industry

Oil Well file photo

(Oilprice.com – Irina Slav – May 25, 2020) Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has tasked the government with implementing a set of measures aimed at supporting the oil industry for the duration of the OPEC+ production cut agreement. According to a document published on the website of the Russian presidency, the measures include a prescription not to sanction companies that stray […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s Economy Suffers Double Hit From Oil Slump and Coronavirus” – Wall Street Journal/ Thomas Grove, Georgi Kantchev

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

“As infections grow, Russia finds a shortfall in oil revenue hurts its ability to offer the kind of emergency support provided in the West.” “… [Russia’s] slump … began … when coronavirus lockdowns in China and elsewhere pushed oil prices lower. … Putin’s hesitance in joining … big producers to curtail output compounded the problem, driving oil to its lowest […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Profit Slumps Herald More Trouble Ahead for Russia’s Corporate Giants” – Moscow Times

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

Russian companies’ first quarter financial results are already showing the impact of the coronavirus. The worst is yet to come. (Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jake Cordell – May 18, 2020) Russia’s blue chip companies have posted some of the bleakest financial results for years in the first few months of 2020, with analysts saying the hit to earnings will […]

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Why Russia Finally Accepted Deeper Oil Output Cuts

Oil Well file photo

(Oilprice.com – Irina Slav – May 5, 2020) When Russia refused two months ago to join the deeper OPEC oil cuts, it was because Moscow found them unnecessary. Two months later, Russia agreed to cut quite a bit more than it was asked to at the ill-fated March meeting. It is now doing its best to achieve its promised cuts. […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “As coronavirus hits record numbers in Russia, this is a dangerous moment for Putin” – CNN/ Nathan Hodge

Coronavirus File Photo adapted from image at cdc.gov

“Russia hit a grim milestone … officially recording the highest number of coronavirus cases the country has seen in a 24-hour period, with 10,633 people testing positive. … [T]he economic pain is worsening … Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on state television … ‘I don’t recall anything like this,’ … adding that plummeting global oil prices — a primary source […]

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Russia’s Energy Czar, Disliked And Feared, Catches Blame As Oil Prices Collapse, Venezuela Deals Crumble

File Photo of Rosneft and Russian Flags Next to Rosneft Banner

March was the cruelest month for one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s longest-serving and most hawkish confidants[,] Igor Sechin … head of state oil company Rosneft …

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Russia Expects A Protracted Oil Price Plunge

Oil Wells File Photo

(Oilprice.com – Tsvetana Paraskova – April 29, 2020) Even though the new OPEC+ deal is set to come into force this week, oil prices will not rise much in the near future because of very high global inventories, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said in an article published in the ministry’s publication Energy Policy on Tuesday. The oil market could […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia’s economic woes will clip Vladimir Putin’s wings; Pandemic combined with collapsing oil prices spells real hardship” – Financial Times

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

“… Putin’s … oil price war with Saudi Arabia … was disastrously timed. … days before the coronavirus pandemic began forcing economies around the world into lockdown, cutting crude demand. Russia then succumbed to the virus itself. … [Putin] had to cancel a referendum to approve constitutional changes …. The IMF forecasts Russian [GDP] could contract by 5.5 per cent […]

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Saudi Arabia And Russia Fight Bitter Market Share Battle As Oil Prices Collapse

Oil Wells File Photo

(Oilprice.com – Vanand Meliksetian – April 27, 2020) The Chinese word ‘crisis’ consists of the characters for ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity’. The unprecedented situation in global energy markets has provided traditional producers with an opportunity to displace incumbents in primarily the U.S. The price war Saudi Arabia started after Russia refused to reduce output in early March has decimated budgets of […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Repair, abandon, burn: Russia explores options for historic oil cut” – Reuters/ Olesya Astakhova, Katya Golubkova

Oil Well file photo

“In just a week, Russia has to find ways to cut a fifth of its oil output … and is looking at all options, including putting wells on repair and maintenance to abandoning them entirely and even burning oil, four oil industry sources said. Russia, along with other members of the global oil alliance between the [OPEC] and non-OPEC members, […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Explainer: What Happened to Oil Prices and What Does it Mean for Russia?” – Moscow Times

Oil Wells File Photo

Oil prices in the U.S. went negative for the first time in history. Should Russia be worried? (Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jake Cordell – April 21, 2020 – Jake covers business & economics for The Moscow Times.) What happened? The headline price for a barrel of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil fell into negative territory for the first time […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Oil prices fall to less than zero for the first time in history” – bne Intellinews/ Ben Aris

Offshore Oil Rig file photo

Oil prices dropped to less than zero dollars as producers are forced to pay buyers to find some place to store their output “Oil prices for the US WTI blend fell to less than zero on the futures market for May deliveries on April 20 for the first time in history as producers ran out of places to store crude. […]

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Qatar And Russia Fight For LNG Supremacy As Prices Fall To Historic Lows

Gas Flame file photo

(Oilprice.com – Viktor Katona – April 19, 2020) [Text with charts oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Qatar-And-Russia-Fight-For-LNG-Supremacy-As-Prices-Fall-To-Historic-Lows.html] The 2020 drastic oil price drop, induced by the ever-frightening coronavirus and the Saudi-Russian spat, has ravaged business interests all across the world. US oil producers are facing a new reality – instead of a seemingly watertight growth trajectory, 2020 will most probably witness a decline in annual […]

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Oil War And Peace: A Russian-Saudi Standoff Is Over — At What Cost To The Kremlin?

Oil Wells File Photo

(Article text ©2020 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Todd Prince – April 15, 2020 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/russia-saudi-standoff-oil-war-peace-kremlin-cost/30557642.html) When the alliance of oil-producing countries known as OPEC+ reached a deal to slash crude-oil output by a historic amount, it staved off a further collapse in the price of Russia’s main export commodity. The […]

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RUSSIALINK: “OPEC+ Deal Will Help Russia Avoid ‘Market Chaos,’ But Provides Little Support to Embattled Economy” – Moscow Times

Oil Well file photo

The production cut will support oil prices and avoid a further ruble crash while the wider economic damage from coronavirus continues to build. (Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jake Cordell – April 13, 2020) The fresh OPEC+ deal struck between Russia and Saudi Arabia over the weekend will provide little support to the Russian economy, analysts believe. Instead, the deal […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia Hails Oil Deal It Says Will Save Millions of U.S. Jobs” – Reuters

Offshore Oil Rig file photo

“… .planned supply cuts represent a complete reversal by Russia and Saudi Arabia, which had both threatened to ramp up output in a battle for market share after the previous deal between … OPEC[] and other producers fell apart …. Combined with G20 input, the leaders of Russia, the United States and Saudi Arabia engaged in a series of phone […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin Makes Painful Climbdown as He Sues for Peace in Oil War” – Bloomberg/ Evgenia Pismennaya, Ilya Arkhipov, Henry Meyer

Oil Wells File Photo

“… Putin’s deal with OPEC … three years ago was a triumph … bolstering his clout on the global stage. But now he’s had to to make stinging concessions after … Trump stepped in to end a price war. Amid relief in Moscow at the unprecedented deal with Saudi Arabia and other major producers to slash oil output, the accord […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Trump, Putin, Saudi Crown Prince Scramble to Fix Oil Markets” – Wall Street Journal/ Georgi Kantchev, Summer Said, Andrew Restuccia, Justin Scheck

Offshore Oil Rig file photo

All three leaders face economic threat from low prices. Moscow and Riyadh bury the hatchet. “… On Thursday, Saudi Arabia and Russia ended their stalemate and convinced a handful of other major oil producers to join them in the biggest monthly oil-production cut ever. … Mexico … [also] said it would reduce … production by 100,000 barrels a day …. […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Russia will have to cut oil output by 1.8 mln bpd under OPEC+ deal” – Interfax

Oil Well file photo

MOSCOW. April 10 (Interfax) – OPEC+ countries agreed on Thursday to cut oil production by 10 million barrels per day from the October 2018 level, although for Russia and Saudi Arabia the baseline for the cut will be 11 million bpd, a communique from the meeting seen by Interfax shows. OPEC+ countries, the communique said, produced 43.85 million bpd in […]

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Money Is Flooding Into Russia Despite Crashing Oil Prices

Oil Well file photo

(Oilprice.com – Michael Kern – April 7, 2020) With the virtual OPEC+ meeting where Russia and Saudi Arabia were to discuss output cuts to end the oil price war delayed Monday, oil prices took a huge beating–but Russian stocks are still hanging on. While state-backed companies saw their share prices shredded on March 9th, including major banks Sberbank and VTB […]

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Relief On The Horizon? Trump And Putin Discuss Oil Markets

Vladirmir Putin and Donald Trump Sitting in Chairs with Flags Behind, adapted from image at whitehouse.gov

(Oilprice.com – Julianne Geiger – March 30, 2020) U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed on Monday to have energy officials from both countries discuss the dire state of the global oil market, the Kremlin said, according to Reuters. Trump and Putin discussed the matter over the phone on Monday. “Opinions on the current state of the […]

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The Oil Price War of 2020: Winners, Losers and Ways Forward

Oil Well file photo

(Russia Matters – russiamatters.org – Li-Chen Sim – March 25, 2020) Li-Chen Sim, an assistant professor at Zayed University in the United Arab Emirates, is an expert on the political economy of energy in Russia and in the Middle East. Two broad themes have dominated analyses about the failure of OPEC+ to arrive at a new consensus on oil production […]

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The Cost Of The Oil Price War Is Growing For Russia

Oil Wells File Photo

(Oilprice.com – Irina Slav – March 25, 2020) Russia’s economy needs about a trillion rubles, or roughly $12.7 billion a month over the next few months to emerge stable from the coronavirus pandemic and the oil price crash Russia’s economy needs about a trillion rubles, or roughly $12.7 billion a month over the next few months to emerge stable from […]

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Russia’s Unexpected Advantage In The Oil Price War

Oil Well file photo

(Oilprice.com – Tsvetana Paraskova – March 25, 2020) While the ruble is now at its lowest level against the dollar in four years, the cheaper ruble has a silver lining for Russia’s oil producers in the oil price war for market share with Saudi Arabia. The collapse of the OPEC+ deal and oil prices has hit Russia’s financial markets and […]

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Russia Sees Oil & Gas Income Fall By Almost $40 Billion

Gas Flame file photo

(Oilprice.com – Tsvetana Paraskova – March 18, 2020) Russia’s revenues from oil and gas will be US$39.5 billion (3 trillion rubles) lower than planned, due to the tumbling oil prices, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on Wednesday, adding that Russia’s budget will be in deficit this year. The coronavirus pandemic and the lower economic activity, coupled with oil prices […]

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The Inevitable Outcome Of The Oil Price War

Middle East Map

(Oilprice.com – Simon Watkins – March 19, 2020) One might reasonably posit that when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) signalled that Saudi Arabia was once again going to produce oil to the maximum to crash oil prices in a full-scale oil price war, Russian President Vladimir Putin probably fell off the horse he was riding bare-chested somewhere in Siberia […]

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Russia Makes Move On Antarctica’s 513 Billion Barrels Of Oil

Antarctica Map

(Oilprice.com – Simon Watkins – March 16, 2020) Rosgeologia’s seismic surveys and other related work since the 70s to now indicate that there is at least 513 billion barrels of oil and gas equivalent in Antarctica, and Moscow has now set its sights on the world’s most underexplored continent Given the march that it has stolen on everyone else in […]

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Why Didn’t Russia Just Cut Oil Production?

Oil Wells File Photo

(Oilprice.com – Robert Rapier – March 15, 2020) Last week OPEC conducted meetings with a coalition of partners that have worked together to limit oil production since 2016. It was widely reported that the group hoped to come to an agreement to reduce oil production by an additional 1.5 million barrels per day (BPD). The meetings came in the wake […]

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The Reasons And Risks Behind Russia’s Big Oil Bet

Oil Wells File Photo

(Article text ©2020 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Todd Prince – March 10, 2020 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/failed-talks-a-fit-of-anger-a-plot-to-sink-u-s-shale-the-reasons-and-risks-behind-russia-s-big-oil-bet/30480151.html) For years now, Russia has been laser-focused on insulating itself from an external economic shock. It may have just sparked one. In an unexpected move on March 6, Russia rejected a call by OPEC countries […]

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Russia Can Live With $25 Oil For Years

Oil Well file photo

(Oilprice.com – Tsvetana Paraskova – March 9, 2020) After oil prices collapsed in the worst drop in nearly three decades-courtesy of the renewed Saudi-Russia rivalry on the oil market – Russia’s Finance Ministry said on Monday that Moscow had enough resources to cover budget shortfalls amid oil prices at $25-30 a barrel for six to ten years. The price of […]

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Ruble, Oil Prices Tumble Amid Market Chaos After OPEC-Russia Deal Collapses

Diverse Paper Currency, Coins, Line Graph

(Article text ©2020 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – March 9, 2020 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/ruble-oil-prices-tumble-after-opec-deal-collapses-amid-coronavirus-fears/30476938.html) The Russian ruble fell to a four-year low after oil prices collapsed following a breakup of talks between OPEC leader Saudi Arabia and Moscow. The ruble tumbled on March 9 by more than 7 percent to nearly 74 […]

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