Russian oil and gas help push current account surplus to record high

In the second quarter of 2022, Russia’s current account surplus reached $70.1 billion, the highest figure since at least 1994, according to data released by the Russian Central Bank on Monday.

Exports fell to $153.1 billion from $166.4 billion in the first quarter, but imports fell more sharply, falling from $88.7 billion to $72.3 billion. For the first six months of the year, the current account surplus has reached $138.5 billion, the central bank said.

Rising energy prices and commodity exports are bolstering Moscow’s finances, even as Western countries imposed sanctions on Ukraine during the war. Meanwhile, imports have fallen as the US and its allies sought to isolate the Russian economy from the global financial network.

“An explosive trade surplus says a lot about what’s going well for Russia, from high commodity prices to continued demand from many export partners,” economist Scott Johnson told Bloomberg. “But it’s also a symptom of distress, with a drop in imports disrupting the entire economy.”

In May, the IEA said the Kremlin was making about $20 billion a month in oil sales as high crude prices boosted export revenues by 50%.

Meanwhile, Russia’s tight capital controls have turned the ruble into the best-performing currency against the dollar this year, even though it had fallen to less than a cent at the start of the war in Ukraine.

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