(Bloomberg) For Russia, $30 is the number to watch. Crude prices at that level will push the economy to depths that would threaten the nation’s financial system, according to 15 of 27 respondents in a Bloomberg survey. Lower prices for the fuel are next year’s biggest risk for Russia, which is unprepared to ride out another shock on the oil market, most economists said. Other dangers for 2016 include geopolitics, strains in the banking industry and the ruble, according to the poll of 27 analysts.
“If oil prices fall lower and stay at that low level for longer, risks of fiscal and financial destabilization increase significantly,” Sergey Narkevich, an analyst at PAO Promsvyazbank in Moscow, said by e-mail.
Russia, which has adjusted to the worst commodities slump in a generation with spending cutbacks and a weaker ruble, may be hard-pressed for policy answers if oil slumps further after losing more than a third of its value in the past year. While Brent, the European benchmark, is trading around $45 a barrel, a warmer-than-average winter could weaken heating-fuel demand enough to trigger a decline in the price of crude to $20, analysts at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said in a note Nov. 18.
“The situation we are in is no longer a crisis,” Deputy Finance Minister Maxim Oreshkin said at a round-table at the upper house of parliament in Moscow on Monday. “It’s a new reality, reflecting new prices for oil, a new situation with the balance of payments.”
Oil has dropped as U.S. inventories climbed to near a record and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries produced above its quota. OPEC, which meets to discuss policy Dec. 4 in Vienna, is set to stick with its strategy of defending market share by maintaining output and driving down higher-cost production elsewhere, according to all 30 analysts and traders in a separate Bloomberg survey.