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Lower oil refinery output hits value of Russia's Q1 exports

(Reuters) - Lower production at Russian oil refineries was partly to blame for the continued decline in the country's exports in the first quarter of this year, the central bank said on Thursday.

Goods exports fell to $97.9 billion in the first quarter, from $105.1 billion in the same period of last year, the bank said in a report. The bank did not give a specific figure for oil exports.

Some of the refineries have been forced into unscheduled repairs due to drone attacks. Russian fuel production has been affected by drone strikes from Ukraine, which says its attacks on Russia are justified because it is fighting for survival and has suffered damage to its infrastructure from Russian air strikes.

"The value of exports continued declining in conditions of external trade restrictions and lower global prices for gas, coal and a number of metals," the central bank said.

"Lower production at oil refineries also put downward pressure on exports."

The bank added that the year-on-year decline in the value of exports had slowed due to high oil prices, while the good grain harvest was also supporting exports.

High interest rates and a weaker ruble compared with the first quarter of last year were partly behind a drop in the value of imports, the bank said. Goods imports declined by 10% year on year to $66.8 billion in the quarter.

"Imports may also have been restrained by problems with payments," the bank said.

As the threat of secondary sanctions deters Chinese banks from facilitating trade with Russia, companies are flocking to the one Russian bank with a Chinese branch and facing up to six months of delays, sources told Reuters earlier this month.

Reuters reported in March that Russian oil firms are facing delays of up to several months to be paid for crude and fuel exports as banks in China, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) become more wary of U.S. secondary sanctions.

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