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Tough times set to persist for Russia's oil sector borrowers

Western sanctions are harming the industry causing foreign investments to slump

The operations of Russian oil and gas firms may be in robust enough shape to survive the impact of low oil prices, but Western sanctions in response to the Ukraine crisis have targeted some of the most strategic Russian companies - and they are hurting the sector's ability to raise finance. The government's prognosis for oil output is resolutely bullish. Alexander Novak, the energy minister, said in March that production would remain stable at around 10.5m barrels a day (b/d) until 2035, and there is no sign of an immediate impact from sanctions: the 10.7m b/d produced in January was the highest level since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Some factors are on Russia's side. A fall in the

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