Russia is the largest country in the world and it is rich in raw materials and natural resources. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Russia has the world’s largest natural gas reserves and the second-largest coal reserves. It also holds the eighth-largest oil reserves. The Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation formulates state policy and regulates the study, renewal and conservation of natural resources.
According to the Oil and Gas Journal, Russia had oil reserves of 60 billion barrels at the start of 2010. Much of Russia’s oil is located in the region of Siberia, near the Ural Mountains. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia privatized the oil industry and today domestic companies dominate the market. International companies can invest in the Russian oil market, but the state authorities strictly control such investments. Most of the oil found in Russia is exported to European markets, via an extensive pipeline network.
Russia holds one of the largest gas reserves in the world and natural gas is found in western Siberia and in certain areas of northern Russia. Natural gas production is mainly run by the company Gazprom, majority owned by the government, although a few independent producers operate in this market. Gazprom also controls Russia's gas reserves. Natural gas is exported via dedicated pipelines to European and Asian markets. As of 2010, nine major pipelines operated across Russia and further pipelines were in the process of being constructed.
Russia has an extensive iron and steel industry. In the 18th century, iron ore deposits were found in the Ural Mountains but difficulties in accessing the mountainous region made mining difficult. In the 20th century, a more systematic approach was taken to exploiting iron ore in Russia. Today, much of the iron ore is found in the Kursk region in the southwest of Russia. The Kursk magnetic anomaly is the world’s largest iron ore basin. Much of Russia’s iron ore is consumed by the domestic market, but some is exported internationally.
It is said that Peter the Great instituted gold prospecting and mining in Russia. The first Russian gold mine was set up in the 18th century. Today, gold can be found in many regions of Russia and its extraction is strictly regulated by the Russian state authorities. Licenses to mine are sought after and only approved after a lengthy process. Although in the past gold mining was completely monopolized by the state, it was semi-privatized in the 1990s.
- U.S. Energy Information Administration: Independent Statistics and Analysis
- U.S. Energy Information Administration: Independent Statistics and Analysis: Natural Gas
- Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation
- "Soviet Natural Resources in the World Economy"; Robert G. Jensen, Theodore Shabad and Arthur W. Wright; 1983
- russia. winter. image by Maxim Fedorov from Fotolia.com