The Soviet Union’s acting oil minister said Friday that he believes that Soviet oil output has stabilized after a sharp drop but that his estimate would put this year’s output at the lowest since the mid-1970s.
Vagit Alekperov, acting minister of the oil and gas industry, told the Tass news agency that the Soviet Union, the world’s biggest producer, is pumping 3.5 billion barrels this year, its smallest output since 1975.
Alekperov also said that the Soviet government must stop subsidizing the industry and let oil prices rise to their natural level. The industry, he said, will become freer of state control anyway with the Soviet republics’ push for more say over their own affairs.
Soviet oil production has been falling because of deteriorating infrastructure, outdated technology, poor management and social unrest.