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Expert: Russian Oil Exports May Decrease

Oil exports from Russia - the world's second-largest oil producer - may decrease within two years, a top Russian oil industry expert warned Tuesday.

Yuri Shafranik, head of Russia's Oil and Gas Industrialists' Union and a former energy minister, said the International Energy Agency forecasts that Russia will sustain oil production growth for the next two or three years, after which it is likely to decline, the Interfax news agency reported.

"Oil production has almost peaked, and further growth is only possible if price trends are good, so exports will be automatically restricted two years from now," Shafranik was quoted as saying by Interfax.

Shafranik cautioned that Russia still possesses unexplored oil fields and he said production could be sustained by direct foreign investment.

Between January and October 2004, Russia exported 4.05 million barrels per day on average outside of the former Soviet Union, according to the Industry and Energy Ministry - a surge of some 17 percent.

Russia is the world's second largest oil producer, exceeded only by Saudi Arabia.

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