Russia’s oil majors thought a new fuel-tax break this year would support the sector. Now, low demand for gasoline in Europe is turning what was expected to be a help into a multi-million-dollar hindrance.

“Russian oil companies have become hostages of external market conditions,” said Ivan Khomutov, chief executive officer of Moscow-based energy consultant Petromarket.

Weak gasoline prices in Europe have turned tax calculations upside down for Russian oil companies. Major producers may now have to pay as much as 11 billion rubles ($167 million) in extra gasoline levies to the government this month alone, according to Petromarket.

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