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Interview with Stepan Demura Fontanka

- Stepan Gennadievich, you believe in this picture: we agreed to extend the agreement, but they began to twist our arms, reducing production even more; we got offended and left, the Saudis lowered prices, everything fell?

- No, stop it. There is an article on Bloomberg with excerpts from an interview with comrade Dynkin (President of the Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations. - Ed.), Where it is clearly stated that this is our new political strategy - to take revenge on shale companies for what the Americans have done with Gazprom and with our country's gas industry in general. By the way, the same was said by the press secretary of Rosneft. Well, people completely left with their heads. Spring, or something.

- To be fair, Mikhail Leontyev (press secretary of Rosneft. - Ed.) did not speak about revenge. He believes that it was an onerous agreement and masochism, and we gave the market to the Americans with their shale oil ...

- Nobody followed it, this is an agreement. Russia was constantly increasing production.

- So you really think this is some kind of reactive solution, not a strategy?

- In our country, there is no need to talk about a strategy, there is none. Most likely, some kind of reflexive step: someone brought an analytical report to Sechin or Putin, saying that there is a chance to squeeze shale oil. We have analysts who work for the government confuse ass and finger, so they dug their own grave. But understand, breaking the agreement is not the cause of the collapse, it is just an excuse. Oil could fall on anything, even on the coronavirus, at least on anything. The canopy has been on the market for several years - sometimes a million barrels a day, sometimes a half. The question is not why it fell. The correct question is why until today oil prices have been so high.

— Thanks for the tip. Why were oil prices so high until today?

- That's why the S&P is at such heights - speculation. The balance of supply and demand in the oil market has long played no role, OPEC is a formality, it cannot regulate anything. Everything is decided by speculators, therefore the fair price of oil is how much is given for it right now. There is liquidity - we buy, there is no liquidity - we sell, which is what we observe. At some point, the central banks will pump up liquidity again, come up with some stupid thing, like “the coronavirus is not as scary as we have been drawn, everything is recovering, blah blah blah,” and we will start growing. But oil will not come back.

- How much can it fall during this time?

- In general, the long-term target for Light (American oil WTI. - Ed.) is $ 12, the second is $ 9 per barrel, but this is already in 2021–2022. This time, maybe 20 will feel. I don't really track Brent. For a while, oil may rebound, say, to $ 50, but there will be no previous levels. Average levels for the year will be 40, 30 and less.

(During March 9, WTI fell to $ 27.3, Brent - to $ 31.02. By the evening they were trading at about $ 33 and $ 36, respectively. - Ed.)

- Does it hurt the Americans as much as we do?

- Shale producers have problems starting around $ 25. They will be corrected, but they are all hedged up to their ears - $ 50, $ 60 per barrel. Therefore, as in the last time, when the Saudis seemed to try to fight them, nothing would come of it. They will spend 9 months on this money quite calmly. And then, this is a completely different industry, not comparable to our production in terms of technology. They open and close wells in a matter of weeks, where modernization is proceeding at a breakneck pace, in 3 years they have reduced the cost by 3-4 times. In addition, the United States has something to answer. The same "Rosneft" is fully lit in deals with Venezuela, so they can impose sanctions on the company, just removing part of the canopy from the oil market.

— Not by market methods, frankly.

- If you sit down to play at this table and you have no cards - that's your problem.

- That is, we will not be able to squeeze a part of the market from the Americans?

- No, this is complete nonsense, we will bend much earlier. We are eating up our funds at cosmic speed, and now they are trying to convince us that we will hold out for 4 years with $ 27-30? (The Ministry of Finance said that the NWF funds will be able to compensate for the shortfall in oil revenues within 6-10 years. - Ed.) Well, well.

- In your opinion, the government has nowhere to compensate for budget losses?

- Why not. After all, we have a second oil - small business and the population. Here, they were advised to tighten their belts tighter, now they will tighten them around the neck. When other countries cut taxes, cut rates, because the economy is hard and needs liquidity - we have the opposite.

- Russians are less concerned about oil, especially since gasoline does not get cheaper after it, but the ruble scared everyone. Will he return too?

- I think at some point we will make 81–82 rubles [per dollar], then 85–86. And then there will be a correction, long-term and deep enough, up to 65–70. But it is difficult to talk about correction now, because we have not yet made the top.

(During March 9, the dollar rate at international auctions rose to 76.2 rubles, the euro - to 86.04. By the evening they fluctuate around 74.2 and 85 rubles, respectively. - Ed.)

- Can Russia somehow influence this? Here, the Central Bank announced a moratorium on the purchase of foreign currency inside the country ...

- The Central Bank is powerless, it's just an exchanger. To the point of the moratorium. The main flows go through ruble bonds. The most that the Central Bank can do is to raise rates at the very bottom so that the market will go against it by 30-40 rubles. They can do this, are trained. But then, in general, everything will stand up: terribly expensive money and expensive loans. Actually, it already happened, but last time it quickly and somehow carried.

— You are expecting a correction in both the oil and foreign exchange markets. Will the stock market, which is falling on all continents, also improve?

- Now the mood is at the bottom of the market, everything is gone, khan. Within a week or two, a local S&P bottom will be set, everything will be flooded with liquidity and everything will start to grow. This growth phase will stretch for a quarter or two, and our players will grow too.

- That is, there will be a canopy on the market again and we will wait for a new reason to run to exchangers?

- Of course.

- But while you are painting a picture of an uncontrollable fall. These consequences were not calculated when the OPEC + talks were held?

- Nobody counts costs. Have you watched Kin-dza-dza? The government lives on another planet, dear. You are looking for common sense where there is none.

- But the current government is still elected on this planet ...

- What to do? Do we have any elections?

- At 100 rubles per dollar, they may appear. Still, people associate their own well-being with the face on the TV.

- Nobody connects anything anymore. And the history of the retirement age has shown this.

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