Russia, the world's largest oil producer, faces domestic fuel shortages after the authorities restricted the transport of crude oil by rail, forcing several refiners to cut production, sources said
The move had taken thousands of tonnes of oil products of the market in recent days, threatening a repeat of 2011 fuel shortages following Russian leader Vladimir Putin's order to oil companies to curb pump prices.
Russia's transportation safety watchdog had banned the use of rail wagons designed to handle light oil products to ship crude and heavy fuel oil following several rail accidents.
A producer, Orsknefteorgsintez, said its heavy oil shipments slumped by almost a half.
"We will only be able to function for 10 days in this mode," a company representative said. We hope the situation will be resolved by then."
The Khabarovsk refinery, operated by Alliance , said it had reduced output by half following the ban.
"As a result, oil refinery declined from 11,200-11,300 tonnes per day to 5,100," a spokesman said.
Representatives of several other refineries had expressed concerns over the ban.
A spokesman for Rosneft, Russia's largest crude producer, said that the company had written to Transportation Minister Igor Levitin to postpone the ban until Aug. 1.
The spokesman declined to comment on possible refinery problems. (Reuters/NAN)