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Russia: Oil production to be flat in 2005

Russia's oil production will probably stay flat or even drop in 2005, a top Russian energy official said Friday.

"Those years where we hit growth rates of 20 percent are behind us," Federal Energy Agency head Sergei Oganesyan said.

Russia's booming oil production in recent years has made it the world's second largest producer, behind only Saudi Arabia. At the end of the 1990s, it posted several years of double-digit growth rates.

In May, Russia pumped more than 9 million barrels a day, a post-Soviet high.

Russia plans to keep boosting production this year in a bid to take advantage of high world prices for oil, its main export commodity. Oganesyan said his agency expects oil output to increase between 7 percent and 8 percent this year.

But in the years to come, he said, production would remain relatively steady.

"I expect Russia's oil production to stabilize, or even slightly dip, in 2005," he said.

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