Export duty on Russian crude may be raised to new high

Duties on Russian crude oil exports may be increased to a new high of US$130 to US$133 per ton beginning in June as world oil prices remain near record levels, the Interfax news agency cited an official at the Finance Ministry as saying.

On April 1, the government increased duties to US$102.60 per ton -their highest level to date. They had previously been set at US$83 per ton from February and US$101 from December.

"If the price of oil per barrel stays at US$45 per barrel for the next 10 days, then the rate will be US$133 per ton," Alexander Sakovich, head of the customs payment department at the Finance Ministry was quoted by Interfax as saying.

The duty on oil exports is set every two months.

The average price of Russian oil from March 1 to April 16 was US$47.5 per barrel, but has hovered at around US$45 per barrel over the past 10 days, Sakovich said.

Despite investors' fears over the sanctity of their investments in Russian businesses - heightened in the wake of the dismemberment of the Yukos oil company against a disputed US$28 billion back tax bills - Russia's economy has been bolstered by high prices for crude, its main export commodity.

The Stabilization Fund - a rainy day government account set up to take in excess tax income from high world oil prices - is expected to reach US$59 billion this year.

Associated Press

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