Russia's oil production apparently is plunging faster than even the most pessimistic Soviet officials and western observers deemed likely only a few months ago. Previous assessments of petroleum industry prospects in the now dissolved U.S.S.R. pointed to a steadily deepening crisis in liquid hydrocarbon flow culminating in 1994-95. A rebound at that time was considered possible, if not probable, with crude and condensate production rising to record levels early in the next century and exports surging to unprecedented heights. But a new analysis published by the Moscow business weekly Ekonomika i Zhizn (Economics and Life) predicts c...

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