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Russia Said to Weigh $150 Million Tax Refund for Oil Exporters

Russian crude oil producers from OAO Rosneft to OAO Lukoil may gain compensation of as much as $150 million after a cut in export duties was delayed by a month, two officials with knowledge of the matter said.

A proposal for compensating exporters, which paid crude and diesel duties at a higher-than-expected rate in January, was signed by Deputy Energy Minister Kirill Molodtsov and sent to the cabinet, the government officials said in Moscow, asking not to be identified as the information isn’t public.

Russia, the world’s biggest energy exporter, calculates duties on crude and refined products each month, using a formula based on an average oil price. While the government had planned to lower the coefficient used to set the taxes in 2014, the laws and government decisions only took effect Jan. 1, too late to apply to last month’s duties, which were published in December.

“Somebody missed that somehow,” one official said.

The Finance Ministry isn't against compensation for the January duty as long as the Energy Ministry finds a legal way to implement it, the officials said. There is no date for a decision, they said.

The formulas with lower rates came into effect Feb. 1. The crude duty dropped 3.7 percent due to the change and a decline in the price of Urals crude, Russia’s benchmark export blend.

If the government sorts out the issue, oil producers may recover as much as $150 million, most of which will go to the biggest exporters, Rosneft, Lukoil and OAO Surgutneftegas, Ildar Davletshin, an analyst at Renaissance Capital in Moscow, said by phone.

Olga Golant, an Energy Ministry spokeswoman, declined to comment by phone.

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