Oil output in Russia edged up 1.2 percent to reach a new post-Soviet high of 10.27 million barrels per day (bpd) last year, as the world’s top crude producer eased tax burden and launched pipeline flows to China, the Energy Ministry said on Monday.

That is a bit more than the 10.26 million bpd, expected by an analyst poll compiled a year ago, though the increase in 2011 has slackened from a 2.2 percent rise in 2010 when the country produced 10.145 mln bpd, up from 9.93 million bpd in 2009 and 9.78 million bpd in 2008.

Russia aims to maintain annual oil production at around 510 million tonnes, or just over 10 million bpd, in the next 10 years. It also sees its crude oil export flat at 250 million tonnes in 2012.

The main driver behind the increase was the new Vankor oilfield, developed by the country’s top crude producer Rosneft , which reached a production target of 15 million tonnes (300,000 bpd) last year.

The field is slated as the main source of Russia’s pipeline export to China via the East Siberia – Pacific Ocean (ESPO) link, which is shipping 300,000 bpd of oil to Daqing in China from Russia’s Skovorodino.

In 2012, Russia plans to finish the second stage of ESPO, which will terminate at the Pacific port of Kozmino. This year is also expected to see the launch of the Baltic port of Ust-Luga, which has been delayed from November 2011 due to heavy infrastructure damage during construction works.

Ust-Luga may handle 10 to 20 million tonnes of oil from the Baltic Pipeline System-2.

Natural gas production in Russia increased to 670.544 billion cubic metres (bcm) in 2011 from 650.311 bcm in 2010. Gas output at Gazprom, Russia’s top natural gas producer, rose to 509.664 bcm last year from 508.471 bcm in 2010.

Gazprom, which is suffering from demand decline in debt-stricken Europe, its key market, expects to produce 521 bcm of gas in 2012 and 549.2 bcm in 2013 to match the level of 2008.

Source: Reuters