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Russia's antimonopoly watchdog could take new legal action against the country's
Russia's antimonopoly watchdog could take new legal action against the country's five largest crude producers unless they cut oil prices within two weeks, the head of the Federal Antitrust Service (FAS) said on Thursday.

"I will write letters to the five largest oil companies saying that unless they voluntary cut prices for oil products, the FAS will bring new legal action against them, and the threat of administrative fines," Igor Artemyev said.

He made the demand to Russia's largest independent oil producer LUKoil, Gazprom Neft, the oil arm of Russia's energy giant Gazprom, the state-run giant Rosneft, the West Siberian producer Surgutneftegaz and the Russian-British joint oil venture TNK-BP.

Some oil producers have linked higher oil products prices to soaring oil prices globally.

"We have analyzed the oil price dynamics on the global market over the past month," Artemyev said. "World prices are falling. Oil currently costs around $70 per barrel, while we have seen no decline in the price of oil products here."

The FAS first sued the five oil giants last summer. Following an inspection, Gazprom Neft and TNK-BP were accused of breaching price-fixing laws, while allegations against Surgutneftegaz were dropped.

The high cost of aviation fuel has recently hit airlines across Russia, including the AiRUnion alliance. In combination with a cash crisis and ageing fleet, the national air carrier suffered from flight delays across Russia in late August-early September after AiRUnion failed to pay off its outstanding debts.

The Russian Technology Corporation, the Moscow government and the administration of Eastern Siberia's Krasnoyarsk Territory agreed in early September to merge several airlines from the AiRUnion alliance as a way of easing their cash-flow problems.


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