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    GREF PREDICTS DIMINISHING RUSSIAN OIL EXPORT GROWTH RATE

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    MOSCOW, MARCH 19, 2004. (RIA NOVOSTI) - Economic Development and Trade Minister Gherman Gref forecast a slow-down of the Russian oil export growth rate in 2004 and subsequent years as he spoke Friday at a joint session of the Finance and Economic Development ministries' boards.

    The Russian oil growth rate amounted to 35 million tons in 2003 but it is expected to slide down to 13-15 million tons in 2004 and to 10 million tons in subsequent years, reported the minister.

    Prices for oil will go down in the next few years from the current extremely high level to $23-24 per barrel and perhaps even lower, according to Gref. This considered, he said, the next four years will be worse for Russia in terms of economic conditions than the previous four years.

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