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    RUSSIA TO LOWER ITS OIL EXPORT DUTY TO $83.2 PER TON IN FEBRUARY

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    MOSCOW, December 28 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian government is planning to bring the oil export duty rates down to $83.2 per ton in February 2005.

    According to Alexei Kaulbars, head of the foreign trade & customs regulation department at the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, the current duty rates, $101 per ton, will continue into January, but may be lowered in February to $83.2, in accordance with crude price monitoring data as of December 28.

    The current crude export duty rates have been in effect since December 1, 2004.

    An interagency commission for protection in foreign trade discussed next year's export duty rates for refined oil products at a session Tuesday, but postponed a final decision till January, Kaulbars told reporters.

    The Finance Ministry is proposing a new calculation scheme for refined oil rates, one that would make it possible for Russia to prevent domestic gasoline prices from soaring as crude prices on outside markets go up sharply. If the proposal is approved, the export duty rates for refined oil products will be calculated on the basis of two-month monitoring results for Urals crude, the Economic Development Ministry official said.

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