Russia, the world's largest oil producer, may raise export duties on raw materials for gasoline production, if local fuel shortages persist, Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko said on Friday.
"It may be related to vacuum gas oil and straight run gasoline - the raw material used to produce high-grade petrol. It is exported a lot, and its export is profitable. We do not rule out raising export duties on this kind of raw material," Shmatko said.
The government boosted the gasoline export tariff to a nearly prohibitive 44 percent from May 1 to fight local shortages which started in mid-April in some regions as oil companies prefer to sell gasoline abroad where prices are higher than in Russia, where the state controls them.
The Federal Antimonopoly Service, the government's competition watchdog, has accused large oil firms of operating a cartel.
Last week Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin said the government could take more steps to ensure uninterrupted deliveries of gasoline to the local market if it did not see stable supplies. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has ordered the government to continue keeping an eye on gasoline supplies.
"When we are absolutely sure that the situation has normalized, we may return to removing the duties," Shmatko said adding the Energy Ministry holds a daily monitoring of the situation on the gasoline market.
He said the situation had stabilized in some regions, as oil prices had fallen. "In this situation we will monitor the price dynamics. Supplies to the domestic market to some regions are more profitable today than exports," he said.
BRATISLAVA, May 13 (RIA Novosti)