MOSCOW, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Russia must make all necessary preparations this year to introduce hedging to protect the country's oil earnings against price drops, a deputy finance minister said on Friday.
Russia has collected its oil revenues in sovereign funds, but with current low crude prices cutting deep into government income, much of the savings are at risk of disappearing by the end of 2017.
"The key task for 2016 is to work out all the necessary infrastructure so that at the necessary moment we can consider the possibility of performing this type of operation (hedging)," Deputy Finance Minister Maxim Oreshkin said.
"It's obvious that all (of the oil and gas revenues) cannot be hedged. The issue is about at least a part."
Mexico, another big oil producer, introduced hedging via the futures market in the early 1990s. It hedged its crude exports at an average price of $49 per barrel for this year.
Oreshkin added that at the presently low crude prices, introducing the hedging mechanism "can be considered more as work for the future".
Oil prices were mired around $30 a barrel this week, near the lowest since 2003. Russia's budget for 2016 is based on the assumption of oil selling at $50 per barrel. (Reporting by Darya Korsunskaya; Writing by Lidia Kelly; editing by Ralph Boulton; Editing by Jason Bush and Ralph Boulton)