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Russian energy firms hit by crises

Russian energy firms hit by crises
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has cancelled export tariffs on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for the third consecutive month in March.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has cancelled export tariffs on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for the third consecutive month in March.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has cancelled export tariffs on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for the third consecutive month in March, responding to pleas from Russian energy firms hit by the financial crisis. Analysts say the extension of the tariff removal will help producers such as Novatek, Russia's second-largest gas firm, by allowing them to export propane, butane, ethylene, propylene and other liquefied gases tariff-free.

The order applies to all exports from March 1, the government said.

Domestic LPG manufacturers lobbied the government to cancel the export tariff in November. A government source told on Thursday producers had asked the state to abandon the tariff "until the financial crisis ends".

At around $90 per tonne, the government loses around $15 million a month by scrapping the duty.

Russia produced around 11 million tonnes of LPG last year, traders said, citing government sources. It exported 2 million tonnes.

Petrochemicals firm Sibur, Russia's largest LPG producer, said it produced 3 million tonnes last year, although Novatek is the country's biggest exporter.

"The government will continue cutting the export tariff, but they won't do it in one go through the end of 2009, but more on a month-by-month basis," said analyst Alexander Yeromin at Finam in Moscow.

"It will really help Novatek," he said. "The support is needed as Gazprom has asked Novatek to reduce natural gas output."

State-controlled gas giant Gazprom has already begun talks with Novatek, in which it has just under a 20 percent stake, to reduce output of natural gas as demand slumps.

Novatek declined to comment.

Gas prices, which lag behind oil by around six months, are beginning to fall.

Saudi Arabia is the world's biggest producer of LPG. The International Energy Agency (IEA) said it produced roughly 30 million tonnes in 2006, the latest statistics it has.

www.TurkishMaritime.com.tr

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