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The average annual price for Russian Urals
The average annual price for Russian Urals oil in 2008 will be $94.6 per barrel, up 37% from the 2007 figure, the Russian Economic Development Ministry forecast on Friday.

The ministry said benchmark Urals oil would be priced at $54.8 per barrel on average in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said earlier Russia would retain a budget surplus with an average oil price of $70 per barrel, and that there would be no need to unlock the country's Reserve Fund, designed to cushion the federal budget against a plunge in oil prices.

The economics ministry said its basic forecast for 2009 was based on the price of $50 per barrel, although experts said the possibility of a budget deficit remained if the government failed to cut expenditure.

Kudrin said the country could face a 1 trillion rubles ($36 billion) budget deficit next year.

World oil prices have fallen by more than 60% from a record high of $147 per barrel in July to under $50, as the global credit crunch has reduced demand for fuel.


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