Oil prices: Russia risks financial crisis if oil falls below $30 a barrel

The financial stability of Russia is at stake if the price of oil falls below $30 a barrel

Hazel Sheffield
Monday 30 November 2015 16:52 GMT
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A flame from a Saudi Aramco oil installion known as "Pump 3" is seen in the desert near the oil-rich area of Khouris, 160 kms east of the Saudi capital Riyadh, on June 23, 2008.
A flame from a Saudi Aramco oil installion known as "Pump 3" is seen in the desert near the oil-rich area of Khouris, 160 kms east of the Saudi capital Riyadh, on June 23, 2008.

The financial stability of Russia is at stake if the price of oil falls below $30 a barrel, according to analysts.

When Bloomberg asked experts at what price Russia's financial stability would be threatened, 63 per cent of them said $30 a barrel was the number to watch.

The crude oil price is currently around $42 a barrel, less than the $100 a barrel oil it was worth in the summer of 2014. The Organisation for Petroleum exporting countries has asked countries like Saudi Arabia to cut their production of oil to try and stop prices from falling any further. But these countries keep pumping.

Goldman Sachs has said that the oil price could fall to $20 a barrel if the warm winter cuts fuel consumption - which would be good for drivers, but bad for North Sea industries, and potentially catastrophic for countries that rely on oil, like Russia.

Russia has adjusted to falling prices by cutting spending and a weaker currency. But it could run out of ideas if the oil price does not recover.

Lower oil prices remain the key risk for the Russian economy, despite adaptation to the shock during 2015, according to Andreas Schwabe, an economist at Raiffeisen Bank International AG in Vienna. “From that risk, an even weaker ruble and new waves of high inflation and budget problems derive," Schwabe told Bloomberg.

The International Monetary Fund has warned that large budget deficits in Iraq, Iran, Oman, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Libya and Yemen mean that if these countries do not seek to diversify their economies or borrow money, they will run out of cash in five years or less.

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