According to analysts' forecasts, in 2002 the average price of oil will be no less than USD 18 per barrel. In their opinion, the drop in oil prices is a temporary phenomenon and soon oil prices will start growing again. Currently, the price of the Urals crude is equal to USD 18.17 per barrel, Vladimir Tikhomirov, analyst of the NIKoil company, said. USD 18 was the lower limit set while planning the 2002 budget, he noted. In Tikhomirov's opinion, even if the price of oil falls to USD 15-16 per barrel, Russia will be able to honour its debt obligations in 2002 and keep a balanced budget. In 2003, should the oil price's downward trend persist, Russia can face difficulties with forming financial reserves planned to be used for peak foreign-debt payments. A long-term reduction in prices may affect exporters' income, monetary flows into budget revenues and gold and currency reserves, Tikhomirov believes.
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