MOSCOW: More crude from state-owned top producer Rosneft kept Russian oil output the highest in the world last year, ahead of Saudi Arabia, Energy Ministry data showed on Wednesday.
Crude output edged up almost 1 percent to a new post-Soviet high of 10.37 million barrels per day (bpd), but the increase could halt this year due to depleted oil fields in West Siberia.
Russia, whose proceeds from oil gas constitute around half of budget revenues, aims to keep its crude production at no less than 10 million bpd until 2020.
The Kremlin has increased its share in the oil industry to over 50 percent after top oil producer Rosneft clinched an agreement to acquire Anglo-Russian TNK-BP for around $55 billion in a cash-and-stock deal.
After the acquisition, expected to be completed in the first half of this year, Rosneft will become the world's largest oil producer with hydrocarbon output of some 4.6 million barrels of oil equivalent per day.
In tonnes, Russia's crude production was 518.018 million last year, the ministry said, up from 511.432 million tonnes in 2011, which was one day shorter than 2012.
In December, Russia's oil production edged down to 10.48 million bpd from 10.50 million in November, a post-Soviet high.
Rosneft reported one of the largest rises in crude output among the Russian oil majors last year, with an increase of 2.3 percent to 117.473 million tonnes (2.4 million bpd) on a daily basis thanks to increased production at its East Siberia's Vankor field to 367,000 bpd.
LUKOIL, Russia's second-largest oil producer, saw a 1 percent decline in domestic output, to 84.620 million tonnes.
LUKOIL has tried to increase its exposure to overseas oil deposits as it has been unable to offset a production decline at its mature West Siberian oilfields. It owns 75 percent of Iraq's huge West Qurna-2 deposit.
Saudi Arabia has restrained its output to steady oil prices, which reached a record high last year.
Brent crude averaged over $111 a barrel in 2012, the highest on record. The international benchmark gained 3.5 percent for the year, after rising 13.3 percent in 2011.
The windfall has helped oil production in Russia, where the extent of the crude output rise surprised many analysts. Moscow hopes the momentum will continue with so-called tight oil, hidden in layers of rock.
However Russia has yet to follow the United States in deploying advanced horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technologies, which is known as fracking, on a commercial scale.
Last month, Rosneft has agreed with ExxonMobil to tap the shale oil in West Siberia.
Center>Copyright Reuters, 2013