Russia to ban gasoline exports amid shortages
Russia announced on Thursday it would not export any gasoline next month and would direct all sales to the domestic market in a bid to curb a recent shortage that saw a jump in prices.
"In May, the (Russian energy) companies are not going to export. All volumes will be delivered to the domestic market," news agencies quoted Deputy Energy Ministry Sergei Kudryashov as saying.
The move from the world's leading oil producer came after two dozen Russian regions reported gasoline shortages, prompting Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to order officials to get to grips with the situation.
Kudryashov said Russia exported about three million tonnes of gasoline last year.
But this week, energy companies reported a recent jump in gasoline exports amid a surge in global energy prices.
The Russian domestic market remains tightly regulated and price increases have already resulted in probes and heavy fines against some of the country's largest producers.
Several governors Russia's Far North and Far East regions reported 30 percent increases in petrol prices and a general shortage of supplies.
The head of Russia's largest private oil firm Lukoil forecast on Thursday a five to seven percent increase in short-term prices across the country and Kudryashov said that he expected an increase along the same lines.
But he flatly ruled out further government regulation of the market and hinted of stiffer export duties on gasoline exports in the months to come.
"We rule out the introduction of state regulation," the deputy energy minister said.
"There are other levers" he added in reference to higher export duties aimed at encouraging Russian producers to sell at home.
© 2011 AFP