A summary of the Russian Federal budget was posted by Reuters in July of this year. It said that Russian crude oil had to be sold at or above $116 per barrel or the budget would show a deficit for the year. A cursory look at the Ural blend (Russian Trading System, comparable to the WTI or Brent) crude pricing for the year suggests that it probably fell short of the goal. To get some feel for whether or not they accomplished the price requirement, understand that the Ural and Brent crude price indices have been essentially the same for 2012. The posting tables the Draft Three Year Budget:
DRAFT THREE-YEAR BUDGET 2013-2015 (in trillion roubles unless
Year 2012 2013 2014 2015
Break-even oil price ($) 116.2 113.9 106.0 105.4
Average oil price ($) 115 97 101 104
Nominal GDP 60.6 65.8 73.4 81.5
Revenues 12.7 12.4 13.6 15.2
Expenditures 12.7 13.4 14.1 15.3
Deficit (% GDP) – 0.1 1.5 0.6 0.11
Non-oil deficit (% GDP) 10.6 10.1 8.9 8.6
$1 = 31 rubles
By 2015, the draft budget forecasts break even price at $105.4.
Both Poland and Romania have shale oil and natural gas potential and are known to be evaluating whether it can be profitably exploited. This is a real threat to Russia. Any development of Western European shale is a major problem for Russia. Like crude oil sales, natural gas sales are a major source of income for Russia. Russia currently provides most of the natural gas and much of the oil to Western Europe. Russia has not been reluctant to shut off supplies. In 2009 a dispute between the Ukraine and Russia over unpaid bills resulted in shutting off natural gas to the Ukraine. Other countries felt the effect with low pressure or no pressure in their pipelines. While the official story was about unpaid bills there was a belief that Russia’s real reason was to warn neighboring countries not to join NATO. They probably are prepared to put pressure on these nations to persuade them to not develop shale gas or oil.
Below is a 2009 map of the Russian natural gas pipelines supplying European nations.
Stefano Casertano, managing director of the Berlin based “The Energy Affairs Company” posted “From Fracks to Riches” on the Stratfor website. A number of countries are dependent on sale of oil and natural gas to provide the revenue to balance their budgets. In addition to the numbers above for Russia, Casertano lists what he says are the crude oil prices (in dollars per barrel) to achieve the needed revenue for several other countries as follows:
The US economy can get an enormous boost from an ample supply of low priced fossil fuels. The fear is that the President does not really see this boost as aligning with his political objectives. He can use his rigged fracking safety study group to impose many “safety” restrictions as a means to cut short this very beneficial exploitation of our shale. The consequence of slowing or even stopping the US shale boom will be appreciated by Russia and OPEC.