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Winter Fuel for Russians More Important than Exports

VIENNA, Sep 10, 2000 -- (Agence France Presse) Russian Oil Minister Alexandre Gavrin said Saturday his country will not make any more oil available for international markets at the expense of domestic consumers, but did not rule out boosting exports.

Speaking to reporters here in advance of Sunday's meeting of Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) ministers, Gavrin said Russia did not currently have any excess capacity to export.

"As you know, Russia is entering now the autumn and winter period .... We need the crude."

He added, however, that Russia intends to increase its crude oil production in 2000 by 12 million tons from current levels of "about" 305.4 million.

When pressed on whether more oil might be exported, he said: "We do not intend to do this, to make any redistribution of oil supply for the outside market at the expense of our internal market," he said.

Gavrin would not be drawn on whether he thinks there current oil prices are too high. "The prices of crude ... are what they are, and Russia cannot make any realistic influence on the current prices," he said.

But he said Russia is prepared to participate in discussions aimed at excluding "very sharp variations of prices."

Gavrin is attending the OPEC meeting as an observer and said that the meeting would provide a good opportunity to listen to what OPEC member countries think about the current global market situation. ((c) 2000 Agence France

-- Martin Thompson (, September 10, 2000

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