The Soviet Union became the world's No. 2 oil exporter in 1979, second only to Saudi Arabia, the independent Swedish research firm PetroStudies said Monday.
Price increases and an increase in sales volume gave the Soviet Union a record $22 billion in oil earnings last year, 50 percent, or $7.4 billion, higher than in 1978. Total oil exports rose 5.2 million tons, or 104,000 tons daily, to a record 164 million tons, or 3.3 million barrels daily. The Soviet Union remained the world's leading exporter of refined oil products, with 42 million tons, or 840,000 million tons per day, in 1979.
The increase in exports to Western European countries was significantly higher, 17 percent, than increases in exports to Eastern bloc countries, only 2 percent.
PetroStudies said the increased sales to "hard currency" countries helped reduce the Soviet Union's trade deficit with Western industrialized countries by two-thirds, from $3.35 billion to $1.13 billion.