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A Talk in Favour of Rich Men

A Talk in Favour of Rich Men
Oleg Sultanov 28.09.2006

Inhabitants of the Russian Federation are interested in obvious paradox: both while the growth and decrease of the world prices for hydrocarbonic raw material all oil companies in Russia react in the only way – they raise cost prices for gasoline. During the passed out 8 months of this year the volume of oil extraction has increased almost for 2,5 % having made 318 million tons. Its Majesty - Export pipe shivers from pressure. New and new public actions against increase of the prices for gasoline are being planned in the country. During the last week it went up in price, for example, in St.-Petersburg for almost 15%.

In the middle of September Prime-Minister M. Fradkov tried to agree with oil oligarches about restriction of increase of prices for fuel emphasizing that the prices for products of oil refining bring their mean contribution to the growth of inflation. It was even promised to the oilmen that there would be no increase of prices for excise taxes. But the conversation turned out to be non efficient; oil tycoons wait from the government for the steps "on stimulation of investments into oil refining".

It’s strange, the whole country during last 15 years, from B.Yeltsin's submission, has been stimulating the growth of superincomes of the Russian oil nouveau riches, but they still are not satisfied …

Today according to the prices for oil products the Russian Federation "came to" a level of the world standards and our raw billionaires conduct "high-society" way of life corresponding to this level. In the whole Russia according to standard of living lags behind even of some poorly developed countries on the African continent. An inhabitant of Nizhny Novgorod V. Sergeev is not surprised by this fact: " … Both inflation and increase of prices on fuel are inevitable and will proceed until oil complex in Russia would be demonopolized. Monopolists bossing in it artificially slow down oil refining production as soon as it’s more profitable for them to sell raw oil abroad”.

It is difficult to disagree with Victor Gavrilovich; the green light of export dollars has been whomping up oil kings of Russia for one and a half decade and lured governmental analysts, obviously, hesitate to tell them about the menacing scales of a coming crisis in oil-extracting branch.

The potential of its growth has been successfully put already during Soviet time, but now it almost is completely worn out because the basic production assets are worn out and nobody’s going to update them especially in oil refining. Its factories (oil refineries) are - nowadays the shame of Russia; all in all there are 27 of them, 22% from which started to work even before the beginning of the World War II, 30 % - before Jury Gagarin's flight into space.

May be because of it such "modern miracle-techniques" allow ours processors of oil to distil from one ton of it only a hundred and a half litres of benzine. While "the world fighters with international terrorism" approach this parameter nearer to five hundred litres though and there, behind the ocean, during the passed out three decades no new oil refining factory was built.

As well as construction of high-quality motorways the technology of production of gasoline in the Russian Federation is considerably lower world level. That’s why the quality of fuel leaves much to be desired; they say that even extra-gasoline is produced not by additional distillery but by addition of antidetonation additives. It turns out that even at poor quality of gasoline its price for Russians raises all the same. It’s clear enough that our gasoline as an export goods does not represent any interest for buyers from the developed countries; it is much more favourable to buy crude oil in Russia and make from it easy fractions using own equipment. The Russian oil generals are satisfied with it, not putting finances in modernization of processing branch they completely, I even would say selflessly, give way to their favourite export. It’s good that the president conscious, he constantly appeals to saddle an export pipe more densely so that to “provide energetic safety” all over the world.

The cabinet is glad to such policy: the denser export pipelines are filled in with oil, the more often the Prime-Minister M. Fradkov signs decisions about increase of rates of the customs duties on raw material; starting from October, 1st our oil-extracting LTD will start to pay more than $237 per ton. In fact just recently, since August, 2006 the government introduced the tax of $216, that is the growth during these 2 months comprises - almost 10 %.

So, subsurface resources of Russia make profit VIOCs (vertically integrated oil companies) and the state (on behalf of notorious Stabfund) and officials with the deputies lobbying interests of VIOCs and a number of foreign economies which buy up expensive raw material which every year are taken away from Russia by "national" Russian capitalists in bigger and bigger quantities. For internal needs remains ever less and less oil and it is processed in Russia worse and worse, for we have oil refining factories of the times when Adam was a boy.

But the price for the Russian consumers for this not absolutely qualitative fuel becomes higher and higher straining not only purses of ordinary citizens but also all economy of the Russian Federation, for without all kinds of hydrocarbonic fuel it will diminish up to a primitive feudal farmstead with horse traction …

May be we shall limit export? But then the owners of a present life will start crying - raw oligarches who will lose fantastic incomes. The imperious vertical constructed on the base of “black gold” will fail in this case, from its "branches" millions of hanging their officials simulating on a background of oil chink-wet nurse active state activity on construction of a democratic society will fall down. So no democracy can be without an oil pipe.

However, not everything is clear with a pipe - concerning its role in state construction; what is erected, what has been achieved, what awaits us tomorrow?.. Our president loudly and very beautifully deduced shining prospects for the Russians connected with confidence of Vladimir Vladimirovich in a bright power tomorrow of Russia; the oil and gas extraction grows, strings of pipeline transport for destillery of raw material from the Russian Federation will soon entangle, probably, all mainlands and continents, banks have not enough time for account entries of petrodollars and “gaseuros”. So, Russia steps widely on its oil fields gathering rich sprouts of “greens”.

For the Russians benzine rises in price all the same. We shall not recollect once again the popular bard and the hero of one of his songs who asked his wife Zina about a location of bank notes. We shall simply estimate, if now, in the full height of oil "haymaking" benzine steadily rises in price what will come out of it in the near future? It’s not a secret that present increase of level of extraction of raw material is already now accompanied by sharp falling of parameter of petrofeedback of layers and an extraction itself is not compensated by the process of reproduction of mineral-raw base.

Oil-and-gas deposits since 1992 are deprived of the state control over their development therefore the structure of hydrocarbonic stocks has considerably worsened. Petrofeedback also suffers because of this fact being the main parameter of efficiency of correct using of stocks of raw material. That is our descendants while studying history of Russia of the beginning of XXI century for sure will be surprised by today's fact: the Russian Federation possessing infinite stocks of oil was on one of the last places in the world according to the amount of oil recovery.

I think that this sad fact testifies that present oil "kings" of Russia and its leadership do not care a cuss about the next day of the native land. So one shouldn’t be surprised, if after a while deliveries of oil to a home market will again considerably decrease because of the current increase of export, that will inevitably spur internal prices for mineral oil including the prices for gasoline.

And what about foreign countries where our Russian oil companies direct their "business steps" more and more often? For example, the most powerful Lukoil is going to strengthen its positions on the markets of the American continent. This LTD only in the USA realizes almost eight millions tons of mineral oil annually; third part of autorefuellings of Lukoil is situated on the territory of the United States. Certainly, it’s not a reproach for business is business and it would be ridiculous even to assume that the head of this company Vagit Alikperov limits himself in the detailed working out of nuances of further deliveries of the Russian oil to the USA.

Though politicians say that oil is - first of all a policy but the main constituent of the extraction and realization of hydrocarbons is usual commercial interest. Therefore our extracting LTDs take increase of the duty on export which will be start working from October without applause. In fact, having paid the new rate of the duty and the tax on natural resources production oil joint-stock companies cannot have even $20 per barrel in their disposal. That is profit parameters will considerably decrease – practically twofold.

It is clear that only altruists will reduce prices for PETROLEUM PRODUCTS in such situation. Thus representative of Lukoil Dmitry Dolgov directly says that "since October, 1st will be increased taxes on export of oil and oil-products, the tax on natural resources production should be paid in former volume. So it’s too early to speak about reduction of prices on benzine … ". To say shortly, the Russian consumers of PETROLEUM PRODUCTS should wait till the decrease of the tax on natural resources production which, as it is clear, depends on the world prices for oil. May be after that benzene will become cheaper …

At the same time it is necessary to recognize, in my opinion, that today's sad reflections near a gaz station are to a great degree provoked by the Russian government which, obviously, cannot adjust close business interaction with oil companies in the country. In fact despite of decay of our oil processing plants Lukoil, for example, increases volume of processing of raw material on its oil refining factories.

So, on the territory of Northwest federal district NPZ "Lukoil - Uhtaoilprocessing" produces more than 3 million tons of goods annually, 85% of which are being realized within the limits of the district. However, I shall not do advertising to this very LTD which effectively works in northwest of Russia but looks quietly how the parliament of petroliferous Komi Republic addresses for the help to the Prime-Minister M. Fradkov with the request to help with restoration of the landing strip at the city airport in Usinsk - known to all country as outpost of oil extraction in Timan-Pechora oil-and-gas bearing province.

In this province Lukoil earns, I think, quite good money part of which generously directs on realization of functional programs of the development of the Komi Republic. While chairman of the Russian government will think how he can help Usinsk and where he can find $11 million for restoration of its airport, Lukoil, I suppose, could have solved this problem without any meditations. May be I am wrong, may be one of the oldest oilmen of the North Anatoly Gumenjuk is right approving that to build a drive way to the oil field is - maximal that big oil bosses are capable of now…

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