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Ministry Disputes Oil Data

Russia has been pumping hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil a day more than Saudi Arabia and is confident it can increase output year on year, Energy Ministry data showed, contradicting a report that the Arabian kingdom has become the world's biggest producer.

Data from an Energy Ministry presentation follow a report published over the weekend by the Joint Organizations Data Initiative, or JODI, a group set up by oil producers and consumers, showing a sharp drop in Russian output.

JODI data showed Russian production fell from 10.370 million barrels per day in December to 9.920 million in March, marginally less than Saudi Arabia's 9.923 million bpd that month.

But the Energy Ministry's data showed daily average output was steady at about 1.41 million tons, or about 10.33 million bpd in early 2012, up from 10.31 million bpd in December.

The ministry's outlook for 2012, based on those production figures, says the country is on track to meet its target of averaging 10.31 million bpd for the year, higher than any month of last year.

"It looks like an issue with JODI methodology," a Russian source said.

(Reuters)

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