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Russia May Become Oil Importer

November 20, 1998

MOSCOW (AP) _ Russia is in danger of becoming an oil importer after years of being one of the world’s largest petroleum producers, a top official was reported as saying Friday.

First Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Maslyukov, who is in charge of economic policy, said oil production has been falling for 10 years and urgent action was needed to reverse the decline, according to the Interfax news agency.

``The situation in the oil sector is critical,″ Maslyukov said, adding that the government must take ``serious measures″ to resolve the industry’s problems.

Russian oil production is likely to fall to 270 million metric tons in 1999, and to 220 million metric tons in 2000, Maslyukov warned during a meeting with officials of Transneft, the operator of Russia’s oil pipeline network.

In 1997, Russia’s crude oil production totaled 297 million tons.

The oil industry, like much of the Russian economy, is plagued by old and inefficient equipment, corruption and lack of funds for developing existing and new oil fields. Oil is one of the country’s few hard currency exports.

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