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Russia March Oil Output Near Post-Soviet Record, CDU-TEK Says

Russia, the world’s biggest oil producer, boosted crude and gas condensate production 1.2 percent in March from a year earlier to 10.47 million barrels a day, close to a post-Soviet era record.

OAO Gazprom led the gains, with liquids output up 18 percent from a year earlier, according to preliminary data e- mailed today by the Energy Ministry’s CDU-TEK unit. The record of 10.49 million barrels a day was reached in November. Soviet- era output in Russia peaked at 11.48 million barrels a day in 1987.

Gas condensate is helping to maintain President Vladimir Putin’s goal of output at more than 10 million barrels a day as crude production falls. Companies are drilling more wells in the mature west Siberian oil province to stem declines.

“Gas condensate production is the real driver behind the growth,” Alexander Nazarov, an oil and gas analyst at OAO Gazprombank in Moscow, said by phone today. “Crude oil output is falling and organic growth currently is impossible.”

Output at OAO Lukoil, Russia’s second-biggest producer, slipped 0.1 percent from a year earlier to 1.7 million barrels a day, according to CDU-TEK. Lukoil agreed to buy Hess Corp. (HES)’s Samara-Nafta asset for $2.1 billion this year. The purchase will help the Russian company reverse declining production because additional drilling is not enough, Nazarov said.

Eurasia Drilling Ltd., Russia’s largest provider of onshore drilling services, increased the total distance it drilled last year by 27 percent, the company said today in an e-mailed statement. Lukoil increased drilling 30 percent in 2012, Eurasia said.

Russia’s oil exports in March fell 0.6 percent from the previous month to 5.24 million barrels a day. Exports declined 0.5 percent from a year earlier.

Natural gas output slid 2.2 percent last month from a year earlier to 1.95 billion cubic meters a day. Gazprom, Russia’s gas export monopoly, cut production 6.8 percent to 1.41 billion cubic meters a day.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jake Rudnitsky in Moscow at jrudnitsky@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Voss at sev@bloomberg.net

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