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Investments in the Fuel and Energy Sector: Growth after a Crisis in the Oil Market

In the beginning of their publication the experts of the Analytical Center for the Government of the Russian Federation analyze main economic indicators which influence the development of the fuel and energy sector, both in Russia and globally. In early 2018, major developing economies demonstrated high GDP growth rates, with the exception of China where the continued economic slowdown may grow even worse with the escalation of the trade conflict with the USA. In June, global oil prices dropped while everybody was waiting for a decision from the OPEC+ countries as to whether to increase oil production. As expected, oil production was scaled up. In Russia, oil production in the first five months of 2018 decreased by 0.7% compared to the same period of 2017; gas production, conversely, rose by 7.5%. In May, prices for thermal coal in Europe increased by 9.2% compared to the previous month due to seasonal growth in demand in China and interruptions in deliveries from Australia and Indonesia.

Dynamics of global investments in the fuel and energy sector and their sectoral distribution serve as an important indicator of long-term expectations about demand for main energy resources. Overall, in 2017, investments in global oil and gas industry and the fuel and energy sector increased after a fall in 2015-2016 caused by a drop in prices for oil. In Russia, during the crisis of 2015-2016, the volume of ruble investments in the fuel and energy sector was growing due to implementation of large-scale oil and gas projects. Globally, the trend towards outstripping growth of investments in renewable energy sources becomes increasingly pronounced, as well as the trend towards reducing investment in «obsolete» segments of the fuel and energy sector. In Russia, however, these trends are hardly noticeable as yet.

According to the authors of the report, the rate of transition to renewable energy sources is high, but not high enough to supersede other sources — coal, for instance — in the fuel and energy mixes of countries soon. The reasons for this are the economic efficiency of coal thermal generation and the high cost of replacing vast volumes of power generation currently accounted for by coal, as well as the fact that the quality of electricity produced by solar and wind power stations is lower than it is necessary for using it in manufacturing.

In Russia, investments in the fuel and energy sector in 2008-2016 were constantly growing and mostly covered the oil and gas industry. As calculated by the authors, total volume of investments in the Russian fuel and energy sector in 2016 was 3.7 trillion rubles, which is equivalent to 25% of total investment in the country’s economy.

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